Mindy McCready ‘Still Here’ After Weathering Scandalous Storms
“I’m OK/I’m alright/Hurricanes and train wrecks only last one night”
She was once an A-list artist with a powerful voice and a promising career, selling more than two million copies of her 1996 debut album, ‘Ten Thousand Angels.’ But as soon as the spotlight started to fade a bit, Mindy found herself on a downward spiral … spiraling out of control. She dealt with one setback after another, including an abusive relationship, a revealed affair with married baseball star Roger Clemens, three suicide attempts, a drug addiction, a laundry list of arrests, jail time and — most recently — a sex tape that she is working tirelessly to keep from being released.
Mindy is well aware that she’s more of a tabloid star than country star these days, but she’s hoping ‘I’m Still Here’ will remind music fans just that … I’m still here, and I still sing! The Boot sat down with the newly sober songbird, who just completed a stint on ‘Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew,’ to talk about how past troubles are shaping her musical future.
With everything you’ve been through, what was the one moment where you realized you were out of control and needed help?
Dr. Drew always liked to talk about when your bottom moment was. I had about 30. There were a lot of things that happened to me that told me, “You’re going down the wrong road here.” I got to going down so many wrong roads that I couldn’t find the right one to turn around on. But the most hurtful and the most pivotal moment in my life was when I had been in jail for about two months and my son [Zander] came to visit me. He was 17 months old, and the day I left to go to jail was the first day I had slept without him, in his whole life. And I was devastated, because he didn’t recognize me. I was like, “What have I done? I have got to change. I’ve got to be a better person. I’ve got to be a better mother.” And that’s when I really started to make a conscious effort to do everything differently. That’s where ‘I’m Still Here’ came from.
You were sitting in a jail cell when you wrote ‘I’m Still Here.’ Is that the most autobiographical song you’ve ever written?
Oh, by far. There are things that happen in everybody’s life, that you can look back after you’ve lived through them, and say, “That was a life-changing moment.” When I thought of the words and thought about that song and about singing it to the world, I thought about saying to everybody, “I’ve been through so much, I’ve been so down, so hurt and so broken, but I’m still here. God is the reason for that. God has a bigger, more important reason than just me, and I’m still here.” So, that song really saved my life. It’s what got me to say, “I’m gonna fight, and I’m gonna be a better person. I’m going to try to make some good come from all this bad.” I decided to survive instead of lay down and die and be the victim.
Was it hard to be so emotionally vulnerable in the song?
I have been through so much humiliation. So much embarrassment. So many things people think they knew about, whether they were true or not. It wasn’t hard for me to put myself out there. I’ve always been honest. I never really think that looking back at your mistakes is more important than your triumphs … Maybe by me telling you how I lived through it, maybe I can save somebody else out there from having to suffer the way that I did.
So much more than I’m supposed to be a celebrity or an entertainer, I’m supposed to leave a legacy that no matter what bad happens to you, you can live through it and can make something great from it. I know that sounds corny, but it’s true. The culmination of going through life, being a celebrity, making a lot of money and having hit records, in the end isn’t going to be something in which I can say, “Wow, I’m proud of that, but did I really do anything that made a difference?” Well, now I can say that I did. I really do believe that I touched people in a way that they will never be the same from that.
In addition to three of your own co-writes on this album, you also include songs by some veteran songwriters, including Gary Burr, Hillary Lindsey and Trey Bruce, just to name a few. And then there’s a “little” song by Tony Arata, ‘The Dance,’ originally recorded by Garth Brooks. How did you decide to put out your own version of such a classic?
‘The Dance,’ first of all, was on the first CD I bought ever. I was about 14 or 15 at the time. It was one of my favorite songs in the whole world. There are 16 cousins in my family and almost all are boys. There are only three girls … my cousin Niki was the youngest. She was 21 years old when she died evacuating a hurricane in a head-on collision in 2005. The song ‘The Dance’ was her favorite song. The state of Tennessee would not let me leave to go to her funeral. [When I recorded it] I went to my producer’s basement and we put that track down in one take. He played the piano, and I sang it. I sent it down, and they played it at her funeral. They put it on her ‘In Memory of’ site, and people on the internet started hearing it, and it eventually made its way to my MySpace page, and was played, in a couple month’s time, a million times.
‘The Way You Make Me Melt.’ It’s a very sexy song. It’s very edgy … I love singing about love.
Of course, I [also] love ‘I Want a Man,’ because it’s so funny and cliché but it’s also me attempting to speak into existence what I wanted in a man. Robin Bruce and I were sitting on the couch in my living room with Billy Crain, and we’re all joking around about it. I said, “I hope to God I can find a man like this someday,” and now I have. I guess that whole speaking things into existence really works.
So are you in love now?
I am! I’m dating a producer, songwriter, genius musician. He’s a wonderful guy from New Orleans. He is the sweetest and most wonderful person I have ever had in my life. When I finished ‘Celebrity Rehab,’ Dr. Drew [Pinsky] told me, “Listen Mindy, over the next little while, if you are out some place and meet a good-looking guy and there are flashes and lightning in your eyes, and it’s one of those moments where it’s love-at-first-sight, RUN. Run quickly because your people-picker is broken, and he’s probably another bad guy, so run, run, run.” And this guy that I am dating now, it’s not one of those situations. It’s a scenario where we were friends, and that’s all we were, and neither of us were interested in each other past that. And then, the next thing you know, we really actually loved each other. We became best friends. I’ve never had that happen before in my life. I’ve always had the love-at-first-sight thing. And that seems to be very fleeting. This is a different kind of love … a grown-up kind of love, a real kind of love.
Did you ever have any regrets about being on ‘Celebrity Rehab’?
I was concerned about how things are going to be portrayed. It’s a scary and risky situation to undergo rehabilitation on television in front of the whole world. I didn’t want to talk about family issues, I didn’t want to talk about my childhood. I didn’t want to hurt my family. Dr. Drew said things that really got to me more than anybody else. I had worked with Dr. Phil and 20 other doctors, and nobody seemed to have the answers. Nobody seemed to be able to identify what my true issues were and how to deal with them.
What made Dr. Drew’s advice work for you?
Dr. Drew said something that I thought was so unbelievably intelligent. He said, “I’ve been looking at your life through the headlines, and I don’t think you’re an alcoholic. I don’t think you’re a drug addict. I don’t think all these things that have been portrayed to the media are your problem. I think they are symptoms of a much bigger issue we need to deal with. We’re going to have to go back through your childhood, and we’re going to have to talk about things that are uncomfortable. And yes, some of these things are going to piss your family off. Your mom isn’t going to want to hear about the mistakes she made as a mother on television. You have got to, for your child and your future, be a little selfish right now and go on and do this and trust the process. Tell me everything, and have the attitude that you are going to talk about whatever you need to talk about to get better.” It saved my life.
The cameras also captured you having a seizure during the taping of the show. That had to be a scary moment.
Dr. Drew said to me after the seizure was over, “How come you didn’t tell me you had a seizure disorder?” I said, “Because I didn’t.” That whole situation could have happened when I was driving and I could have killed a bunch of people, but it didn’t. It happened there when I had the best brain doctor in the country, and I could be treated by Dr. Drew and that wonderful staff of people. It happened for a reason … I didn’t know I had a brain injury from when Billy [McKnight, the father of her son] beat me up all those years before. It had been undetected ten times. It had been from him beating my head against the headboard. Left untreated, it’s something I could have died from. It happened right there the way that it did so I could get better … so I could be treated by the best people and leave ‘Celebrity Rehab’ somewhat whole.
Your ‘Celebrity Rehab’ roommate, Kari Ann Peniche, blamed you for leaking her provocative homemade video with Eric Dane and Rebecca Gayheart. What’s your response to that accusation?
She is an extremely disturbed and very sick individual. The thing that she craves the most — to be famous, is also the worst thing for her, because she is such a sick person. I do want people to understand what happened in that situation is not at all the story that she’s told, and everything that comes out of her mouth is complete and utter bull. I did nothing to her but try to help her, and all she did was steal from me and lie and try to use every situation she possibly could to be more famous and get more attention … I hope that she does get help, and I hope that she does get better.
Do you want to tell us your side of the story?
Kari Ann had copied my computer on her hard drive. She stole all my information. Not only did she steal every bit of my new record coming out, my phone, my bank account information … she also stole thousands of dollars from me. When I took those hard drives, I took them because my stuff was all over them. Never in a million years was I going to leave my entire life from my computer and everything personal to me at her house on those hard drives. I didn’t even know what else was on there.
I went back to Florida and got a phone call a few days later from Eric Dane saying, “I understand you have a video that belongs to me,” and I said, “I don’t even know what you’re talking about.” I didn’t know it was on there. He said, “How can we work this situation out?” I said, “I have no problem giving you whatever you want. You can have the hard drives back. I just want to get my information erased off of them.”
Of course, you can never really erase anything. So I sent my computer person the hard drive and went to Eric Dane’s lawyer’s office. What they did was take the information that belonged to Eric and put it on his hard drive. They took Kari Ann’s information on a separate hard drive. Those two hard drives that had information of mine were destroyed. We all signed the confidentiality agreement that said none of us would talk about what was on there, none of us had any other copies of it. Except, the day that Kari Ann was supposed to sign the agreement, she didn’t show up. And the next day the video was on Gawker.com. And to this day, she still has not signed the confidentiality agreement. Eric Dane and I both know very much beyond any shadow of a doubt that I didn’t have anything to do with that.
How devastating was it for you when you realized your own sex tape was being released?
It’s another stupid life decision that I look back on now and go, “Why would you do such a thing?” Nevertheless, it is not something I want out in the world. Unlike other celebrities who have sex tapes, I am not going to make a deal to release the sex tape. I am not going to be a part of promoting it. I think it is absolutely horrible. I do not like porn. I have a four-year-old child who is the most important thing in the world, and I don’t ever want him to be able to go onto the internet and look at his mom in that situation.
What’s your message to those who are accusing you of orchestrating the timing of this sex tape news, in order to gain publicity for your album?
I read a million articles where people said that I did that on purpose. Of all the things I’ve done in my life, I’ve not been a person that has done crazy stuff like that. I’m a country music singer. I’m a Southern girl. I do have morals, and I do have ethics, and I do believe in doing the right thing. I believe the porn industry is not a good industry. There have been situations in my own life where porn has been a bad experience for me. I don’t want to do anything to promote that industry, and I don’t want to do anything to give it a stamp of approval in any way. So I hope that we are able to stop it from ever coming out. But if not, I’m certainly going to fight to let people know that that is how I feel.
What’s next for Mindy McCready?
Very soon, I have a reality show coming out. I had the show concept when I was 18 years old, and it’s taken all these years to manifest itself. But God’s timing is perfect, so I guess this is the time it’s supposed to happen. The show is going to be about seeing the real me, and not the person the headlines have created. There’s a book coming out, there will be a movie coming out, and there’s still a TV show coming out. All of these things are tools to get across to the world: this is who I really am. If you’re going to love me, then love me for who I really am. If you’re going to hate me, then hate me knowing all of the facts, and not because of some story you heard. I want people to not count me out and not pass judgment until they hear the real story and they really do know me.
Download Mindy McCready Songs | Buy ‘I’m Still Here’