P’s & Q’s: Faith Hill Takes a Walk Down Memory Lane
After 15 years of churning out hit after chart-topping hit, Faith Hill is finally taking time to look back on her whirlwind career. The country beauty is set to release her first greatest hits compilation, aptly titled 'The Hits,' on Tuesday. The 15-track CD includes songs spanning her very first smash, 'Wild One,' to her brand-new song, 'Red Umbrella.'
Hill, fresh off her record-breaking concert tour with husband Tim McGraw, sat down with AOL Music to talk about the difficult process of narrowing down her 15-year career to just 15 songs. Plus, we learn about her own, somewhat surprising musical tastes, and her predictions for this year's football season.
Greatest hits packages are always interesting, because as an artist you're almost always looking ahead. And doing something like this really forces you to look back.
Exactly, well you put it so beautifully -- It's always difficult to go back, because when you're an artist of any type, or even in business, you're always looking forward to the next step. When I first realized I was going to be able to have a greatest hits this year, I didn't go back so far. I first started thinking, "What songs can I put on here that I thought should have been hits?" [Laughs] For my way of thinking, I wouldn't allow myself to just pull off all the layers and go all the way back to the beginning. I turned in my list of songs for the album, and I get this phone call back: "It's important that you revisit the beginning of your career, the songs that actually were the hits and that brought your fans to notice you in the first place." And so I did that. I went back and I started with 'Wild One,' which was my first single and which I had not listened to in years. I ended up opening my portion of this last tour with 'Wild One.' I don't go back and listen to my albums. The only album that I listen to upon recording a new one is my 'Cry' album, because sonically, I think it's my best album to date. But other than that, I've never listened to my records, ever.
As you go back through these songs and think about where you started from and all that you've accomplished --things like singing with Aretha and Reba -- is there anything that stands out most for you?
Well, I take a walk down memory lane, I really do. Performing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl the same year that our hometown team was there -- that is, in itself, a great experience. I start thinking about things like that, and I realize I have had a phenomenal career, and I have been so fortunate and so lucky. You were so dead on when you said we're always looking ahead, so moments like this have allowed me to sit back and review the things that I've been able to do in my career. And the music just keeps growing. I feel like I've not made my best album yet ... I really feel strongly about that. But the records I have made have built my career, and I'm very proud of them.
What are a couple of the songs you submitted that you would have loved to have put on the album?
There was a song called 'Stronger' that actually did make it, but a live version. It's a song from the 'Cry' album, and it's always been one of my all-time favorite songs. I perform it in my live show. It's a fan favorite. But it never was a single, because at country radio, 'Cry,' the album, was not embraced. But it was a huge album for me. Because of that, I did end up putting a live version of 'Stronger' on this greatest hits album just for the fans. If I could go back I would have maybe pushed a little harder for that to have been a single, but at the same time, it's now getting its stage. There's a song called 'Paris' that just goes down as being one of my all-time favorites that I have recorded. A song called 'Stealing Kisses' that wasn't a hit, but for me as an artist is starting to define me more as the artist that I'm becoming.
I never saw myself going before 'This Kiss,' but then I realized, "Man, they're right. I need to bring back some of these songs." At the time they were hits, huge hits. "Wild One' was responsible for so many things, for landing me a spot on David Letterman. That was the first national TV show that I ever did. Not to mention it was a big hit at radio and was No. 1 for many weeks. It changed my career in such a big way. I just hit the gate running. So I've got to give my fans that. And 'Piece of my Heart' -- that was another really big country record. I like rediscovering things that I listened to ten years ago that I'd completely forgotten about. I think it'll be fun for the fans.
You mentioned that if you could have, you would've gone back and pushed harder for the 'Cry' album. But at the same time, how gratifying is it that album has become such a fan favorite? Because without the radio support, it means 'Cry' is an album fans found on their own.
The most gratifying. It's been the most surprising, because I took so much of a backlash from the industry in making that album, but it's close to four million copies sold now. I think 'Cry' was close to a Top-Ten record at country radio, then it completely disappeared. Then it went to Hot AC for a while, but it's not even compared to the hits I've had in the past. But still, I just stand behind that album 150 percent, and my fans love that music. But it was just one that was not being played on radio. So it's gratifying.
Tell us about 'Red Umbrella' and, in particular, what you looked for in finding a new song that fit with your past hits, but at the same time might give a glimpse into what's next for you musically.
I have to say, finding one song or two songs has been more difficult than finding an entire collection of songs for an album. I feel like 'Red Umbrella' embraced what brought me to the party, but at the same time, it's progressive enough in its attitude and its meaning that it will fit into what is coming. But it's just a great song; it's a positive message and it's a great way to not say goodbye to my past, but I kind of see it as a circle. It's like another hand reaching out to grab the other partner. It's a link in the chain -- an interlude.
You mentioned you like revisiting songs as a fan. What are a few of the songs or artists you've revisited lately?
I went back and revisited Elton John. He's an artist who I grew up listening to and has just some seriously amazing stuff. As writers, he and Bernie [Taupin] just had no comparison. So I've gone back and revisited that and actually spent a lot of time with my band listening to some of the old records and going, "Man, this was some good stuff." And it still holds up. Queen as well. What I listen to personally now -- it's always in my stereo now -- is Damien Rice.
Damien's live show is amazing.
One of the best, hands down. Coldplay, which I absolutely love and I listen to before I go on stage every night. Edith Piaf, Angie Aparo and Lori McKenna.
Very diverse list. Is there a favorite Elton or Queen song?
There are too many to name! I love 'Somebody to Love' by Queen and of course 'Bohemian Rhapsody' is one of my favorites, just because it makes everyone in the room go crazy. Everyone tries to sing along with it, and half the room gets it right and the other half gets it wrong. [Laughs] So when you're in a group of people singing that song, it's almost like 'Wayne's World.' But it's a killer song. If you just strip all the other stuff away, look into the meaning of that song and just musically how it's written, [Freddie Mercury] was a freaking genius, truly. I love when music does that to you.
I do have to ask, because I'm a huge football fan. Doing the 'Sunday Night Football' opening song, do you have any predictions on the season?
Well, first of all, I was honored to be asked to be a part of the incredible 'Sunday Night Football.' Our home is a huge football town -- Tennessee, I feel like they have a chance to go all the way. They have got the goods. They're off to a great start, and as a team they're working so well together. It's fun to watch. I love it when you're the underdog and you come up. That's what happened with them when they went to the Super Bowl. They were absolutely not even on the radar in terms of being in the playoffs, much less the Super Bowl. So that took a little pressure off of me singing the National Anthem. [Laughs]