Gretchen Wilson Answers Fan Questions
Gretchen Wilson is hitting the charts with the title track of her latest album, ‘I’ve Got Your Country Right Here,’ so we decided to hit her with some questions from the fans. The Boot solicited our Twitter and Facebook followers for Gretchen questions and thanks to your inquiring minds, we certainly had a lot of fun things to talk to the singer, songwriter, literacy advocate and mother about. We caught up with Gretchen about politics, her daughter, the special moments in her career, getting older, what kind of man she would like to date (“lumberjack man … big dude, hairy, tough! “), as well as the Redneck Woman’s rockin’ new anthem, ‘I’ve Got Your Country Right Here.”
Danny writes, “Would you ever want to run for political office?”
I might want to, [but] I’m not saying I will. It’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately, because of where I’m headed. Something happens after you have a child. You start thinking about the world. Our parents and our grandparents really suffered and went through a lot of hard stuff so we could be as free as we are now, so that we can live the way we’re living. But I feel that we’re not parenting our country as well as our parents parented this country and we’re leaving a lot of stuff behind. If the political world could get to a more honest place, then I might be able to find a place in it. But if being a politician and running for office means not being myself and hiding my past or watching what I say because of the region of the country I’m in, I don’t know if I’m cut out for it. If we ever get to a place where we can handle some honesty and we’re willing as a country to let people to speak freely without throwing our hands up in the air and saying, “racist” or “politically incorrect” or “you can’t say that here” — when we’re ready to really get down to it and talk, I can probably see myself there.
Lori wants to know about the motivation behind your new album — most of the songs seem very deep and personal.
I’m in a very personal and deep place right now. Making this record and starting this new venture in my life took a lot out of me. It got me thinking about a lot of things — my financial situation, for one. Am I working to where I can retire someday? Or am I actually just working to make sure I can never retire someday. You start figuring out your place in the world when you’re in your mid-thirties and heading up. Somehow 37 was my 40, and I don’t know why that was. When you’re 16, you sit and you drive in your brand-new car or the first time you’ve ever driven anything, and you’re wondering, “Hmmm, I wonder where I’ll be 20 years from now?” You think in your head, 36, and somehow that doesn’t seem old, but for me 37 was like, ‘Boom! This was the turning point. Where is everything sitting at? Am I going to be OK for this? Have I done everything I need to do for the future of this?” That’s reflected in the music.
I sat down and wrote ‘Blue Collar Done Turned Red’ because of the way I see our country and how divided and what a mess we’re in. We can’t talk to each other right now. We worked our entire lives to stop the separation, to get rid of the hatred and the racism and the division and all that stuff, and it seems like we got there for a couple minutes. And now politically, it’s completely, we put a board right through the middle of it. I have written a song about it. It’s called ‘Don’t Let the Left and Right Become the New Black and White,’ because that’s kind of what we’re doing here. We’ve forgotten we’re all on the same team here as Americans. I think there’s a little political meaning in almost everything on this new album.
Stevie wants to know how you decided to title the record ‘I’ve Got Your Country Right Here.’
‘I’ve Got Your Country Right Here’ — you can take that in a musical sense as “I’ve got your country music right here,” like I miss the old times when they were talking about stuff that meant stuff to us with Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings. Or you can talk about “I’ve got your country, America, right here,” and we’ve got to get strong again. [With the song] ‘Outlaws and Renegades,’ I talk about politics in that one too. I know it’s a theme, but it’s just where we’re at individually, it’s where we’re at as a group, as a unit, as a country. We’ve got to focus on us. We’re broken. Let’s stop trying to fix everybody else.
It’s the title cut and it’s the new single and it’s fresh and all that, but it’s the old me. It’s traditional as it can be, because it’s where I started. It seems like we spent four years trying to chase the first album, but just walking further and further and further away from it. And the minute that I was able to get my hands around the whole thing, it was so simple for me to put together a record that I think is as close to the first record as we’ve ever come. Don’t over think it. Just grab the songs that you know sound like you — the ones that you’ve written or whether you haven’t written.
Kaitlyn H. wants to know if you ever suffer from stage fright.
Nobody can do what I do better than I can. That’s what I have to tell myself on those nights when I’m too afraid to go onstage, those nights when my nerves just get a hold of me and I just feel like I’d rather kiss the porcelain and throw up for an hour because I’m so nervous. I still get those moments, and I have to remember what my vocal doctor told me. He said, “When you get like this, you can’t go out and entertain when you’re not feeling 100 percent … You may not be sick at all. you might just be nervous, but you’ve got to tell yourself right before you walk out onstage, ‘Nobody else can go out there and do what they expect me to do any better than I can, so even if I’m not 100 percent tonight, I’m still going to be 100 percent better than anybody else could be.’”
Matt wants to know your feelings about cameras being everywhere these days, with camera phones, flip-cameras, YouTube and such.
I totally get that it comes with the gig. I am more than happy, when I’m in work mode, to stop for a picture, to give an autograph, to say hello. But when you’re in normal mode … gosh, we’re real people too, and sometimes I’ve got a dog that hasn’t been let out of the house for six hours, who I know is about to poop, and I’ll be stepping in dog poop if I don’t get home, and I’ve got to get this at the store, and I’ve got a kid who’s going to be waiting outside to be picked up at school. I’ve got no makeup on, my hair in ponytail and in sweatpants, and it’s like I just don’t want to be me right now. So, yes, you gave me that look, and I know I kind of look like her, but forget about it. I’m just not her right now. I don’t mean to be ugly about it, but people will just come up, and you say, “Hi! How are you doing?,” and you put your hand out to them, and before they even speak, they put a camera out and get a nostril shot and go, ‘click.’ It’s just a strange feeling for anybody. I thought maybe when I put my hand out, you’d just answer, like, “Hi! I’m so-and-so. It’s nice to meet you, too.” But it’s strange when somebody approaches you and they won’t even speak, and they shove their camera in your face.
I don’t do this, but if I was to say to somebody, “Hi! How are you doing?” And all I got from them was click, click, click, click, I would move on and say hi to somebody else who was actually going to hear you and acknowledge what you’re saying. I think to myself that I guess they wanted that picture so bad, but if they had not wanted that picture so bad, they might have had a moment or an experience. I’ll tell people, “Hey, if you guys will just leave your cameras outside, you can come up on the bus and let’s have a beer and hang out after the show.” If I were that fan, I would much rather put my camera away and go up and hang out on the bus and have a 15-minute really cool hang. To me, that would be cooler than the picture.
Who would you really want to “hang” with, have that cool moment with as a fan?
I would love to sit and have dinner with Tony Bennett. I would like to sit and talk to Billy Joel. I would love to get into his head and find what woman was it that got into his head like that and made him write things that I, as a woman, only thought women knew. I would much rather learn and hear from an older generation of artists than where I’m at right now.
Dora wants to know, what was your latest life-changing experience?
Starting my own record company was life-changing. I had no idea that was going to happen. It could have gone so many ways. Unexpected moments are always the ones that you really see someone’s true character. When something starts to crumble — whether it’s your work or your family or something like that — some people fall apart and some people just don’t know what to do and they depend on other people to help them figure it out. And some people will not, they just refuse to fall apart. I’m just really lucky … I’ve surrounded myself in the last seven, eight years of being in this business, through the other regime and everything, I’m still standing here today with the true, strong friends, the ones that believe, the ones that will hold me up when I start to crumble and the ones that remind me all the time that I’m not a faller, that I don’t fall, I don’t give up. I keep going. It’s all about being happy. If I wake up tomorrow morning and I decide that this no longer makes me happy, I’ll quit. That’s just what you’ve got to do, but I’m not going to let anybody force me to quit. That’s the situation I found myself in last year, and it was just not going to happen.
Alexis writes, “You seem like such a tough lady … a real guy’s girl. Does anything ever make you cry?”
I cry all the time! I cry at commercials. I’ve seen ‘Sleepless in Seattle‘ a million times and I still bawl. That just kills you. I cried at ‘America’s Got Talent‘ last night. I did, because it got down to the two little girls that sing and they’ve got some kind of respiratory disease and the other one who flies the kites, he’s got some kind of movement disease. They had disease against disease and they had to choose between them. I don’t know. It was up to Sharon Osbourne, let her break their hearts.
Bree wants to know your favorite thing to do with your daughter, Grace.
I don’t know really how to explain this. We just act completely goofy with whatever we’re doing, whether we’re sitting on the couch or I’m cleaning the house and she’s doing homework. Just the other day, I don’t even know why but I asked her, “Do you want to wear your thin, Peter Pan shirt to school?,” because they wear uniforms to school. “Or do you want one of these white, [sings] cotton shirts?” And she sang, “The fabric of our lives.” She doesn’t miss a beat, so now that’s what we’ve been doing for three days. I’ll just go, “cotton,” and she’ll sing the rest of it. We make silly noises. We scare each other coming around the corner … tickle, I rub her feet. She’s all into foot massages. We just goof off. That’s what we do together. Be silly, and not worry about anything.