Buffy Lawson Interview – October 2012

I met Buffy years ago and she is one of the artists that I can say has become a really good friend since our first meeting. (See Bomshel and Buffy Lawson Interviews) She is such a talented singer/songwriter and has not only written great songs for herself, but for artists like Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Lorrie Morgan, Bo Bice and Randy Travis.  After taking some time out to enjoy her personal life, she is back in the limelight with a new cd: “I’m Leaving You For Me” and showcases just how damn talented she is. Buffy recently called me and wanted me to be the first to talk about her new cd and the goings on in her life. She often jokes with me that when it comes to her perspectives that “Her cheese doesn’t fit fairly and squarely on the cracker” but when I think of Buffy Lawson, two colors come to mind…blue and gold. Her personality matches her eyes which are “true blue” and she has “a heart of gold.”

Buffy Lawson– HELLO!

T.E.N. – Hello, how are you?


BL Oh…That is a very interesting question my dear. It is just craziness Troy, it is just crazy!

TEN Like what, talk to me.


BL You got me on a very interesting day today because my album was just delivered to my house. I’ve got 50 copies to send to radio and all that good stuff. They were sent to my house last night. It’s a beautiful, interesting album cover kinda like the way album’s used to be… really interesting looking. Over the years they’ve kind of gotten used to looking like just a head shot or something. Today I got in my car but the CD in the player just started driving around listening to it. I had no plan of going anywhere in particular I just was going to drive around and listen to the album in my car. I was cranking it up, I’ve got a great sound system and I just went to pieces. It was really an interesting little emotional roller coaster because Troy I’m not kidding you, it was every due that I’ve ever paid, it was almost like everything in my life flashed before my eyes, like when I is a little girl and tried out for the talent show in the first grade, I remember what I was wearing. 

This whole process has made me keenly aware because I’ve been doing some interview stuff but not just interview stuff. We’ve got a publicist who’s been getting me these articles with Forbes magazine and for all these things and it’s just bringing back all of these memories that since I’ve been gone from Nashville and kinda walked away from everything… Even before that, even when I was still in the business but I was so in it that I didn’t take time to think about it. It’s like almost like I’m an old person looking back on my life like when you’re in your rocking chair. I mean everything that I’ve done right in my life, everything I’ve done wrong, every heartbreak and every due… It just hit me so hard. I just drove around town jamming to my new album just bawling like a two-year-old girl. It sounds so dramatic and yet it was so organic, it’s hard to describe really. I’m really proud of this record because it really came the most honest place I’ve ever sang and I know that and I hear it. I hear my hurt in there and I hear my joy and I hear my sense of humor. Usually anybody who’s ever worked with me will tell you that I always say: “Turn my vocals down. Turn my vocals down.” This was the only time I said: “Turn my vocals up!” I could hear what my life is been. So anyway you got me on a day. (Laughs)


TEN What inspires you to write your songs?

BL Everything I see. (Giggles) everything I see inspires me. Ya know when I see somebody happy…when I see somebody sad. “Girls night out”…boy that inspired some songs!


TEN How would a person or even you survive in today’s music world?

BLIt’s interesting what’s going on right now because there are so many different creative ways for an artist to be heard. You don’t have to go to the direction of “The Machine” anymore in order for people to find your music. If you’re creative enough and willing to do the hard work you can find people who are interested in you. On the one hand it’s scary for songwriters and for artists… This transition but I think we are now on the other side of it so people are actually excited because I know I never in my career felt so much freedom as I did with this album. Wrinkled Records being an independent label, they let me make my own calls. I am so much more in control, which is why love this album so much because it wasn’t a contrived, placed together music it was what I wanted or what I delegated to those who might be smarter than me, which is a lot of people in this process. It ultimately came down to being my decision and I think a lot of artists out there that feel the same way.


TEN Speaking of Wrinkled Records, how did you get connected with them?

BL The founding mama of Wrinkled Records is Sandy Knox and she and I have been very dear friends for truthfully 20 years. I usually joke and say 240 years. I was a big fan of her songwriting and a huge fan of her as a performer. We have been friends for so long and she decided to create a place for various friends of hers that were artists that she believed in that felt like while the industry felt were not “Twenty-somethings”…she felt that there was a lot of merit to signing artists that were not “Twenty-somethings.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that but she really wanted a platform for music to be heard from people that she believed in. She signed me and this all happened after I had already left Nashville and said my last goodbye. Nothing could be more shocking to me, confusing, exciting and emotional for me to be driving around town listening to my new album.


TEN Looking at the artist roster there some very talented singers and songwriters there.

BL Oh, you bet. Etta Britt is phenomenal. She’s a very soulful singer and her story is compelling. She’s been a background singer for most of her career and was a very hands-on mother and her husband was a musician for a lot of famous artist in Nashville. She just can’t wait until it was her turn and I’m very proud of her. Jimbeau Hinson is a soul mate friend of mine that I met through Sandy. He is HIV-positive and he has lived through it and he has just given so many people courage and hope. His album is so incredible and thoughtful and his stage presence is like no other person you’ll ever see. And of course BJ Thomas, my goodness…waddaya say about that? We’re fortunate and it’s an interesting, eclectic group of the artists that are coming from very different places but as a whole, we really fit. We are all big fans of each other and there’s no competition that there so often is when you’re in the machine.


TEN Looking back at one of your songs when you were in Bomshel, there is a lyric in your song “Absolutely Finger Lickin, Grits & Chicken Love Song” where you say: “Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song.”

BL (Busts out laughing) You never miss a lick! That’s why I love you! We sure did, we borrowed that phrase and put in our own little twist but yea.


TEN And now you’re on the same record label as BJ Thomas.

BL I know, isn’t that a trip?


TEN Let’s talk about your new CD. Why do you still now the time is right to do this CD?

BL When I got signed to my record label, they sorta had a timeline for the way they wanted to see things unfold but, they were also very patient because they knew it was very important to me to find the right songs. I found Walt Aldridge to produce my album. I asked him and I never thought in a million years he would say yes. Together myself, Walt and the record label collected songs that we felt were the perfect puzzle and the label allowed Walt and I to do our thing in our own time.


TEN I’m going to do something that I haven’t done and an interview before. I want to talk track by track about your CD.

BL Ok, cool!


TEN I want to know what inspired you for the song “Leavin You For Me?”

BL Freedom is for me is not as blatant as it may seem. It does sound like a woman leaving a man but the way my particular perspective was as a cowriter was leaving a situation, leaving anything in your life you find to be keeping you from being a healthy person. Whether it’s a job, whether it’s a friendship, whether it’s a relationship with your partner… It’s a lot broader in my heart than just a woman leaving a man or a man leaving a woman. What is special to me about that song is I think the title of it just says it all. I think we should just all try to strive, or at least I do, try to strive to leave situations when the no good for you. It’s good to know when it’s time to go. I think we found a way to do that that I think a lot of people can relate to and I hope it’s inspiring.


TEN You were also in the process of writing a book with the same title and you are going to release that around the same time as your CD is that still in the works?

BL It’s on the back burner for a minute because I’m not living in Nashville the same freedoms as far as time period. I have a more structured schedule now. I’m not able to get with my cowriter who lives in California. It’s going to be a wonderful, wonderful story. I’m very, very proud of it. I have no idea how the two will marry… The song and the book and could eventually be a film.


TEN Tell me about “Rainy Night In Memphis.”

BL I didn’t write this song, that type of song is exactly what I am not a good writer of. I’m not really good at writing mid-tempo songs. What appealed to me so much is that it is mid-tempo. It’s a sad song but it doesn’t break your heart when you hear it. The music and the melody and the movement of it is inspiring even though the character in the song is suffering. I’m real proud of the fact that I let go of control and allow the right song to be on this record. It really helps balance the album. I tend to write really funny and really fast or really sad and really slow. The song is easy on the ears but you can feel the pain too.


TEN Touch on “Beautiful.”

BL “Beautiful” is one of my favorite tracks on the album musically. I wrote the lyrics here in Lexington. Almira Fawn Southworth wrote the music and I came in with the lyrics and we walked away with a song that I feel depicts how hard life can be but also how amazing it can be and how it kinda takes both to make it real. I think that people want to know that other people are having struggles as well. Sometimes we feel like we’re all alone in our struggles as song like this I hope reminds people that were all out there suffering but were all trying to figure out how to get back up and do it all over again. Like it says in the song; “Keep on runnin through the rain.”


TENBread On The Table” is more of an upbeat, faster type of song.

BL This song has been floatin around for a long time and it was always sung by male. It’s about keeping bread on the table, working hard to make everything happen. One of my favorite lines is; “Every now and then a little whiskey in the jar. Hard work I’m able, doing what I can to keep bread on the table. Ya know, clothes on the line, washer needs fixin…” Once again it’s one of the songs that show that everybody havin to work hard. What I love about this song is the character is not complaining about it they’re just coming right out with it with a sense of humor. The guys from Exile who wrote it, were stunned that I recorded it caused the never thought about that song for female. There are a lot of single moms out there in the world that really have to struggle to keep the family fed and to keep their families clothed. That’s why I think every now and then…”a little whiskey in the jar” is even funnier being sang by a woman. You don’t picture a housewife going “Ok babies, ya gonna lay down and go to bed, I gotta have a little shot of whiskey.” Reba is the queen of recording songs that were written for male. Songs that were written for a male, she requests a lot of times this she gets pitched for male songs.


TEN My favorite track is “You’re All I Never See Anymore.”

BL Oh, that’s a fun song to sing and if anybody out there has ever had a large work load, children to take care of, a relationship that was once young and exciting that time and responsibility can keep you away from each other you forget to remember what’s important to each other. You know without a shadow of a doubt being a parent is your most important priority, you know without a shadow of a doubt that you have to work and be responsible in order to survive. But what happens is you forget that you should be taking care of each other as well and taking time for each other. That song is all about that.


TENTo me it would be perfect in a film where the husband comes home from work and the wife has finished all her work and she’s in the bedroom doing a little striptease to that music for she undoes his necktie.

BL Exactly! It is a sexy song! A lot of times people forget that women have desired too and they want to be desired by their husband or their partner. She’s taking control…” Just close your eyes, unloosen your tie and I’ll help you remember why you love me.”


TENRunnin” is a cool song too.

BL I really relate to it a lot in my life right now and being in the music business. There’s some lines in that song that I’m real proud of. I’ve done a lot of runnin in Nashville both good and bad. I should’ve done more running on the treadmill as of late but fortunately it was running from crazy people and insane situations. That’s what makes it all more worthwhile now that I’m home. I think of my family when I hear that song.


TEN What about “Lightning In A Bottle?”

BL Whew… That song just about brought me to my knees the first time I heard it. I felt that it was so poignantly written about betrayal of some you deeply trusted in, that you deeply believe in. The person in the song doesn’t ever say “I’m just fine.” The character in this particular song is still in the middle of the pain. A lot of songs resolve and this song honestly does reveal what a person’s grief is when they are in the middle of the pain and they haven’t gotten over it. It was very challenging for me to sing because the original demo of it was so fabulous. I was very intimated and wanted to make sure I didn’t over sing it and that I treated it properly. Because I’m very happy right now it was very emotionally challenging because I had put myself back into a time period where I wasn’t so comfortable and recall it physically remember how I felt in times like that. This is the one song that I was most curious to hear vocally. I wanted every single solitary word to be authentic and not proper and perfect, so this album is flawed as are my vocals on that song. I remember who I was singing about on that song and he will too.


TEN “Take A Good Look At Gone” is another good one.

BL My favorite part of that song is just the feel. That is a swampy, cool feelin song. It’s about walking away and being strong. The cool thing about it is even if it had no words and you were just mumbling anything, it still would hold its own…the melody, the feel of it and the integrity of all that is just so interesting. But when you have these really cool words about her strength, it’s all put together in a package and a fun song to sing and gets you fired up! She’s in control of that situation, she’s had enough and she’s out of there! You know this woman is never going back.


TENNot Much Of A Lady Tonight”  What about that one…

BLWho don’t relate to that one at all? (Laughs) I wrote that one about my friend…my friend who had too much wine one time. I think there are a lot of people out there who may have had one or two drinks more than they should have and said and did things that they regretted and truly felt bad for. I was proud of myself as a woman at being able to admit that I’ve had those moments. We have never had a woman want to sing that because it always came back that ‘Oh, I want to say that.” And I’m going “Girl, I know that you have woken up in a cave more than one time!” (Laughs) I’m not scared to admit all sorts of different things…the good the bad and the ugly.


TEN– “Waitin AT The Airport”…

BL Golly, I’ll tell ya. One other example of a song I did not write and it is so cool in its melody and has an infectious feel. She’s sad and she’s disappointed and brokenhearted and yet it is palatable to hear. The words are beautiful and it’s about irony you know…”Sittin at an airport waitin on a train.” That’s pretty brilliant. Somebody tells you one thing and gives you the next and you finally come to the realization that it’s an impossible situation. And that’s the way the writers came up with a brilliant way to tie that together.


TEN It gives a feeling of emptiness or longing.

BL Yea, and like your foolish.


TEN The last song “Dear Sarah” it seems like it’s taken from a mother’s perspective to a daughter.

BL I remember when I was a teenager my mother and I had no common ground to say the least. I thought she was ”Mommy Dearest” and she thought that oh it just wasn’t pretty, that’s how these things go. I remember one time when I was 16 years old and being a jerk, my mom looked at me and she just started crying and she said: “I remember when you are little girl, you sat on my lap and you look up at me and said; “Mommy, I’m gonna love you so much forever, you’re so beautiful.” And she asked me “You promise you will always love me?” And I said “Oh Yes!” She talked about how it never occurred to her for a moment at that time that we would never have that. When your teenager and your growing up you’re getting your wings and you’re finding your own voice and there is something literally in your body that makes you pull away from your parents so you can step out. It’s a very painful process for the teenager and for the parent. I have really never heard a song written to my knowledge from other to a daughter about how much you’re still loved. Here I am 43 years old if I make that wrong choice according to my mom, sees there to let me know because to her I’m still her little girl in pigtails. I never appreciated my mom has much as I do as an adult with children. I think this song is really going to be helpful to a lot of mothers because I take that mothers feel very alone at times when they’re teenagers are trying to find their own voice. It’s very painful and it’s painful for the teenager too because they want to fly. I think we used a lot of imagery that hopefully will take the listener back to when that child was little and it softens the pain. It’s one of my favorite songs.


TEN It seems that this CD is geared towards people our age especially women our age.

BL This is not a party album; it’s a grown-up record that deals with real stuff. It’s a very honest record. It’s not one that you put on during a big Mardi Gras party. (Giggles) My biggest hope is that is meaningful to the listener and it speaks to people that radio is not formatted to speak to right now.


TEN Oh, by the way, you still a me a shot!

BL Do you want some Tequila Rose? (Laughs) I’ll buy ya two because it’s been too long!


TEN Are you ever gonna tell me something disturbing about yourself or are ya gonna make me still wait?

BL (Laughs) Baby, If I told ya…I’d hafta kill ya! (Laughs) See, one of these years, I’ll be like 67 years old and I’ll tell ya.


TEN Is there anything else that you would like to add or say?

BL I know people really aren’t buyin cds these days but I would love for them to pick this up and please check this out.  If you’ve ever fallen down and broken your neck and got back up again…you’re gonna like this cd.


I want to thank Buffy for taking the time to share about her career so far.

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