I know that you come from a very musical family. Can you remember when you first knew that you would lead a musical life? I've known since I was 3 that I was different. I always knew that I was not like the other kids. A lot of artists talk about how they felt like they didn't fit in. I wanted to be the young Bonnie Raitt. I wanted to join a band and go on the road and be a rock star. I was destined. I was known as the girl with the guitar.
Who were your other musical influences? I listened to the blues and bluegrass. I listened to the Opry on Saturday. I grew up traveling all over the United States. I lived in Austin (Texas) and hung out with Stevie Ray Vaughan and his brother, Jimmy (Vaughan). I was raised with a real sense of soul. That's why I have the musical influences that I do. Many critics say very kind, generous things about my gift, but I haven't always fit in commercially. I've been to all these different places in the country. I think that's why I'm so for the people. I'm just one of those kids who can show up and identify with the punk rocker, and then I can turn around and talk to the person on Wall Street.
Can you talk about your religious journey? I'm a believer in spirit. The reason I say this is because I am recovering from perfectionism. I am perfectly imperfect, and I have always been a rebel. I have always walked a very thin line between light and dark, legal and illegal, joy and pain. I am very much a paradox. It's not until you're very hammered in life that you find what you don't want. My relationship with the God of my understanding has grown stronger in the last five years because I'm now in a program that allows me to realize who I am, not what I do. If you listen to my music, though, there is always hope.
How have you seen the music industry change over the years? I love it that people still want to come see shows. I really prayed and worried and fretted about if that would ever change, and everywhere I go, people are pretty much still hoping for something they can experience in person. What people really need is that fellowship, that connection to more than themselves. The reason the tour is important to me is that I'm going to show up and have fellowship. I'm not just an HBO special. I'm a real live human being.
When you aren't on the road, what are you up to? I'm a mom. I home-school. I live on a farm with my sister (actress Ashley Judd) and my mom (singer Naomi Judd). I have a really great life and a really hard one in terms of being in my position is not easy. A lot of people, a lot of judgment, a lot of critiquing. The money comes and goes, the awards come and go. The people stay.
Where do you get your inspiration? Somewhere between 35 and 40, you start to understand that people cannot make you happy. I ran around since age 18 wanting to be the good time girl and wanting to please all people all the time. This is not an unusual story that you'll hear with artists. We buy into the theory that people and things can make us happy. I get a lot of fellowship and joy from my family, but my truth comes from the God of my understanding.
Can you remember the first concert that you went to? My very first concert I ever went to was The Who. The second concert I ever went to was Merle Haggard and George Jones. I've always been a dreamer. I remember seeing Dolly Parton and saying, "Sparkles!" Ever since I have been a little girl, I've been looking for magic. I keep one foot on the ground thanks to (my mom), but I've got one foot moving forward. I've always looked for the fantasy . . . even on welfare. We were always looking for our dreams to come true, so I think (my family's) the perfect example of the American dream.
ERIN McCRACKEN, FLIPSIDE STAFF