As a child in Longview, Texas, Miranda Lambert was obedient, not testing her parents’ skills as private investigators.
Her rebellious period came as a Nashville newcomer in the early 2000s. Bursting through the country-lite wall that had been put up for female singers like Faith Hill and Shania Twain, Lambert wielded her music like a melodious weapon — taking down everything from a cheating ex with Kerosene to an abusive man with Gunpowder & Lead.
Today, this self-proclaimed Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has landed on the saner side of the tabloid frenzy that surrounded her marriage and divorce from singer Blake Shelton. Post-implosion, Lambert released her critically acclaimed, platinum-selling double album Weight of These Wings, which Billboard called a “tour de force.”
On Wings, Lambert covers some familiar territory — too much drinkin’, smokin’ and slinkin’ out for the walk of shame — but she also puts her emotional self out there for all to see and speculate about, every unvarnished vulnerability, vice and ache.
“If you want to hear my side of the story or my opinion of what happened, it’s all on there,” she told Billboard. “There’s no mystery anymore — take from it what you will.”
Lambert, who brings her “Livin’ Like Hippies” tour to San Diego on Feb. 15, answered questions via email. Some excerpts:
Upon the release of The Weights of These Wings, you said: “Every record I’ve ever made has been a reflection of where I am right then in my life, however old I am.” Where are you in your life right now?
I guess still chasing the magic. I’m happy and focused.
Willie (Nelson) and Janice (Joplin). They influenced me by telling their truth and being who they are.
Your parents were private investigators — what’s the last thing you ever wanted them to find out about you when you were growing up? And how did you keep it from them?
I was a good kid. I knew I couldn’t get away with anything because of their profession, so I didn’t really try. My mom knew where I was going before I ever got there. Small town and mother’s intuition. Not until I was out of the house (wink wink).
You have evolved from the badass of Kerosene and Gunpowder & Lead to the emotional vagabond of Ugly Lights, Runnin’ Just in Case and Vice on Wings. How much has age versus heartbreak played in this spiritual maturity?
A: I think life, love, heartbreak, age and experience have all had a hand in molding me into who I am today. But who I am today may not be who I am tomorrow. I have so much more to learn and I think I’m ready for whatever comes next.
You’ve got an outsize affection for dogs. Your Muttnation Foundation’s “Fill the Little Red Wagon” project will collect dog food, treats, supplies and cash donations at the venue’s entrance for the Helen Woodward Animal Center. Is there something you get from pups that no person — or, um, man — could provide?
Animals are my passion. Well, my other passion, obviously, besides music. I think they give you a kind of love that you can only find from a heart of a rescue dog or any animals for that matter. I have 19 and counting. Horses, cats, dogs and mini horses!
Your two most recent albums show an impressive range of styles and a move away from mainstream country music. Has there been pushback from your fans, country radio or your label?
I was very blessed and thankful to be able to make this record. I needed it. My label was on board and the fans have been so supportive. Radio has always been a little different for me. I am not your typical mainstream artist, but I always welcome being heard anywhere, anytime. It’s also a little more work for the girls these days, as we all know.
Speaking of country radio, your Pistol Annies partner in crime Angaleena Presley was quoted in the Rolling Stone article “Inside Country Radio’s Dark History of Sexual Harassment and Misconduct” as saying: “They expect you to sit in their laps, and kiss them on the check. It’s a corrupt, broken system. … Part of the job shouldn’t be to let (a) guy feel your butt.” Can you address any element of that story?
I’m proud of the women for being brave and speaking out. There have definitely been “struggles” in the past for women in country music. Then again, nothing great comes easy. I just keep my eye on the prize no matter what, and I like to champion other women to do the same. With that attitude, nothing or no one can stand in our way.
In response to that same article, Kacey Musgraves tweeted: “MASSIVE expectance on us to be extra accommodating, accessible, sexy, and kiss ass-y. Maybe it’s why you hardly ever hear me on the radio.” Do you think women who don’t “play for play” are denied airtime?
Truly, I think if you deliver the music and the performance that’s true to you, then you can’t lose. It’s not about sexy or accommodating, it’s about getting your s**t done and telling the truth always. And a lot about work ethic and drive and heart.
Let’s end on a lighter note: Did you have a New Year’s resolution? And if so, did you already break it?
I’m trying to cuss a little less and live a little more! Cheers!
Miranda Lambert with Jon Pardi and Lucie Silvas
When: Feb. 15
Where: Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl, SDSU, 5500 Canyon Crest Dr., College Area
Tickets: $33.75-$195, plus service charges