DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:
That is FRESH AIR. I am David Bianculli, editor of the web site TV Value Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross. As our nation has reached the grim milestone of over 100,00 deaths from COVID-19, we thought of a program in our archives that includes songs about arduous instances and the power to outlive them. Margo Value is a rustic singer and songwriter based mostly in Nashville, who describes herself as a songbird, thunderbird and jailbird. The jailbird half, that is literal. Value as soon as spent a weekend behind bars after she was arrested for driving beneath the affect. That was the topic of her tune “Weekender,” which we’ll hear later within the present.
Like most of us, Margo Value has been sheltering at residence – in her case, in Nashville. She’s there together with her son, a new child child daughter and her husband and songwriting associate Jeremy Ivey, who has been recovering from what’s suspected to be COVID-19. She’s been engaged on a brand new album referred to as “That is How Rumors Get Began,” which is predicted later this summer time. Within the meantime, she’s simply launched an internet album by way of the web site Bandcamp, that includes her stay 2018 performances with visitor artists on the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. It is titled “Completely Imperfect At The Ryman,” and it is proceeds go to the MusiCares COVID-19 Reduction Fund.
Terry spoke with Margo Value in 2017 after the discharge of her album “All American Made.” Lots of her songs are autobiographical – about household and rising up in a small city within the Midwest. This tune, “Coronary heart Of America,” is about rising up on her household’s farm, which was ultimately purchased out by a big company.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “HEART OF AMERICA”)
MARGO PRICE: (Singing) A while again in ’86, when massive banks took the throne, they requested that each native farmer attempt to dry his personal corn. However the males in fits had a much bigger plan than to let it’s our personal. When the crops got here in that spring, they have been blown. And Neil and Willie tried so arduous. And battles they’ve gone. However that was nonetheless lengthy after the a lot larger conflict had been gained. Nobody was there to save lots of the wheat and the cattle at my residence. They took each area my household owned. Nobody strikes away with no cash. They only do what they’ll to stay within the coronary heart of America, getting by on their very own two palms. You possibly can pray to anyone’s Jesus and be a hardworking man. However on the finish of the day, if the rain it do not rain, if the financial institution, it do not break, we simply do what we will.
TERRY GROSS: That is “Coronary heart Of America” from Margo Value’s new album “All American Made.” Margo Value, welcome to FRESH AIR. Thanks a lot for coming to our present and for bringing your guitar with you. I actually admire that. So…
PRICE: Sure, thanks for having me.
GROSS: My pleasure. Once you began writing songs, did you suppose you would be writing about something as private, as autobiographical as dropping the household farm?
PRICE: You understand, I believe from the time that I used to be actually younger, I used to be at all times making an attempt to, you understand, categorical what was occurring in my life and inside me. And a whole lot of instances that got here out by way of tune. I really feel like I have been making an attempt to write down “Coronary heart Of America” and “Palms Of Time” – I really feel like I have been making an attempt to write down these songs my complete life.
GROSS: You have been – in accordance with your songs, you have been 2 when your loved ones misplaced the farm. So that you in all probability have, like, no reminiscence of truly dwelling on the farm. Can I ask what the circumstances have been that led to your loved ones dropping the farm?
PRICE: Yeah. I used to be about 2 or 3, and I do have a pair sort of imprecise recollections of my grandparents packing up all their issues of their residence and eliminating their canines that they liked a lot and all their animals. So there’s a little little bit of a reminiscence there, simply realizing the gravity of all of it, simply how a lot it affected all people.
Huge farming was coming in. And the banks weren’t very beneficiant in serving to out the household after a tough 12 months. So they’d been advised to put in these grain bins that dried their corn, which, sometimes, I assume, they’d ship off and have that finished. So they’d invested in a whole lot of farming gear that was very costly. After which a drought got here. And the mix of these two issues, then, the financial institution simply sort of swept it out from beneath them and offered it to a big company.
GROSS: So in your first album, there is a tune referred to as “Palms Of Time,” which is about, you understand, leaving your own home and hitting the street and, you understand, launching a music profession. It appears very related to the primary tune that we heard. Are you able to play – are you able to carry out a few of that for us?
PRICE: Yeah, yeah. Effectively, I wrote this tune really sitting down on the piano. And I would had the phrases for a extremely very long time and couldn’t discover the correct chords or the correct tempo or melody. And I simply saved engaged on it and dealing on it. And in the future, I went down and used the piano to determine what was occurring. So, yeah, this is a bit of piece of it.
(Taking part in guitar, singing) Once I rolled out of city on the unpaved street, I used to be $57 from being broke. Kissed my mama and my sisters and I stated goodbye. And with my suitcase packed, I wiped the tears from my eyes. Instances they have been powerful rising up at residence. My daddy misplaced the farm after I was 2 years previous. Took a job on the jail working second shift. That is the final time I will allow them to take what ought to be his. ‘Trigger all I need to do is make a bit of money ‘trigger I’ve labored all of the unhealthy jobs busting my ass. I need to purchase again the farm. Carry my mama residence some wine. And switch again the clock on the merciless palms of time.
It was sort of unusual ‘trigger after I wrote that and I confirmed my husband, he stated, I do not know if that key change works or no matter sort of modulation you are doing there. Simply, I do not know. I simply saved taking part in it time and again. I stated, yeah, it does. After which later, everybody stated it was genius. However proper off the bat (laughter), it was – felt a bit of unusual.
GROSS: So the tune that you just simply did, “Palms Of Time,” refers to your father after the farm was taken away, working a job on the jail. And so – is that the job that he took?
PRICE: Yeah, it was. I believe it is a arduous job for anybody who has it, you understand? No one desires to be in a – working in a jail. However he did what he needed to do to place meals on the desk. And him and my mother labored very arduous, very modest jobs to ensure that we have been by no means with out.
GROSS: You understand, I am questioning there a lot – like, in America, there’s a lot emphasis on, like, the heartland and the household farmer. And there is a complete set of sort of, like, stereotypes that go along with that of what we’re speaking about once we discuss in regards to the heartland and the household farm. Do you are feeling such as you match into any of these stereotypes? Have you learnt what I am saying? Since you really lived that have.
PRICE: Yeah. Rising up in center America, I at all times sort of wished that I used to be from some other place that was extra romantic. It simply sort of felt like there simply wasn’t a lot occurring. It was so flat, the panorama. And simply the winters have been very chilly. The work was arduous. And I at all times, you understand, dreamed of a extra romantic backdrop. However, you understand, now after I return, I see the wonder in it. And, you understand, the extra I am away, I believe the extra I admire the place I got here from.
GROSS: Once you began singing and writing songs, why was it nation music?
PRICE: I at all times liked the tales and, you understand, having the ability to get out a complete plot in simply three minutes. And I believe it is simply the best way that I sang, additionally, as a result of I used to be drawn to so many several types of music. And, after all, there was a whole lot of nation music being performed in my city. However there was one thing about my voice that simply at all times – I do not know if it was nasally or what or that I used to be scooping the notes. However sort of it doesn’t matter what I did, I felt like I could not get away from singing nation music.
GROSS: And also you went to Nashville, the place you continue to stay. And your great-uncle is a songwriter. And I do not know that I do know any of his songs, however he’s a songwriter who went to Nashville and sort of made his manner there. Did that open up any doorways for you, at the very least a door in your thoughts pondering somebody from my household did this, so possibly I can do it, too?
PRICE: For certain. We’d come down for household trip and stick with my uncle Bob (ph) and my aunt Helen (ph) for a pair days. And, you understand, he had gold data hanging on his wall. He is written a whole lot and a whole lot of songs. He wrote for George Jones a tune referred to as “Writing On The Wall.” You understand, he wrote for Reba. He wrote for Charley Delight and Tanya Tucker and so many individuals.
And he had a, you understand, only a common job. And he was dwelling in Iowa. And his spouse was supportive sufficient when he stated, I need to go to Nashville, I need to be a songwriter, that they picked up the whole lot and moved down right here. And it did appear to be this unimaginable dream that he had conquered.
However, you understand, I do suppose that in all probability my mom thought that he might open all the correct doorways for me, and there could be a pleasant easy transition. And I got here to his home. He lives in Inexperienced Hills. And I performed him some songs like the primary week I used to be right here. And he sat there actual quiet and did not say something. And I stated, effectively, what, you understand, what do you suppose? And he gave me one of the best recommendation that he might.
He stated, you understand, go residence, throw away your TV. Throw away your laptop. Simply sit there and simply hold writing. And it harm my emotions, however I wanted that powerful love, you understand, to inform myself I did must hold working at taking part in and listening to different individuals’s songs and seeing what made an excellent tune. So I began going out to a number of open mics and listening to all people and minimize my enamel.
BIANCULLI: We’re listening to an interview and efficiency with nation singer-songwriter Margo Value, who spoke with Terry Gross in 2017. We’ll hear extra after a break. That is FRESH AIR.
(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN DOE AND THE SADIES’ “PINK MOUNTAIN RAG”)
BIANCULLI: That is FRESH AIR. LEt’s return to Terry’s 2017 interview with Margo Value, the nation singer and songwriter who at present is sheltering at residence together with her household in Nashville.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)
GROSS: I’ll ask you to play a tune out of your new album. And that is referred to as “All American Made.” It is the title tune. Would you introduce it for us and play a bit of little bit of it?
PRICE: Yeah. So yeah, this tune my husband and I co-wrote. And it has been round for a minute. You understand, it is humorous how songs sort of change their which means because the world appears to alter them for you.
GROSS: How has the which means of the tune modified?
PRICE: I believe there’s simply extra weight in it than on the time that I wrote it. And, you understand, we wrote it throughout the Obama years. And I really feel like I’ve at all times been one to query the individuals in cost. I take pleasure in taking part in the satan’s advocate and being the protagonist. And so, you understand, after I wrote this tune, you understand, I used to be nonetheless upset with issues that have been occurring. However I believe, you understand, America is simply in such a divided, heavy place proper now. And I really like my nation a lot. I – you understand, I do not need to depart. I simply day-to-day get up and browse the information and really feel confused. And so this tune has helped on some grey mornings.
GROSS: This tune has a whole lot of verses. Do you need to select a few your favourite and play them?
PRICE: Yeah. Beginning after the lead, about midway by way of the tune is the place my favourite one begins.
(Singing) 1987, and I did not realize it then. Reagan was promoting weapons to the leaders of Iran. Nevertheless it will not be the primary time, child, and it will not be the tip. They have been all American made. However I used to be only a little one, unaware of the results, raised on sports activities and Jesus and all the same old suspects. So inform me, Mr. Petty, what do you suppose will occur subsequent? It is all American made.
GROSS: That was Margo Value performing for us the title monitor of her new album, “All American Made.” Tom Petty slips in there (laughter). This was when he was nonetheless alive that you just wrote the tune. Why are you asking him a query?
PRICE: Effectively, I believe there’s nothing extra American than Tom Petty. And so after I began writing these later verses there, I assumed he’d be the one who’d know what really is all American made. And I will simply ask him. And, after all, I assumed possibly if I requested him a query, he would reply me after which I might get to satisfy him.
PRICE: Yeah. I imply, as a result of the album got here out on his birthday, you understand, what would have been his birthday. That was only a actually arduous time, I believe, for individuals on each side of the battle proper now. All people loves Tom Petty.
GROSS: Yeah. Yeah. What was the primary music you sang? Was it nation music? Did you sing in church, in class musicals?
PRICE: I did a bit of little bit of all of that. I grew up singing – and in church, for certain. And I used to be in choir, so I did jazz choir, and present choir and all these issues. My mother heard me singing in the future. I used to be auditioning for, like, a variety-type present that they placed on in my college. She was washing dishes, and her and my grandmother walked in, and so they have been shocked that I might sing the best way that I might.
And after that, my mother actually nourished my love of singing, and he or she would drive me an hour away to get voice classes from one of the best voice instructor that was round. Her title was Sue Clark. And so I used to be singing mezzo soprano Italian songs after I was even 11 or 12. And I nonetheless discover myself, you understand, making an attempt to make the most of that strategy of respiration and phrasing and – however it’s a bit of early for me to be singing proper now. I believe my voice at all times warms up after eight p.m. (laughter).
GROSS: We’re recording this within the afternoon, however I believe you sound nice.
GROSS: Share with us one thing that you just discovered out of your voice instructor that you just in any other case would possibly by no means have identified.
PRICE: Sue Clark, she’s – you understand, I discovered she’s not round now. I attempted to look her up so I might get again in contact together with her and thank her. She taught me to attempt to not clear my throat and to not cough as a result of it could injury your vocal chords. You understand, one factor she at all times advised me to not do was belt and change over into my head voice.
However after I began stepping into, like, Led Zeppelin and Janis Joplin, I needed to, you understand, blow my voice out. So it has been a studying expertise to, you understand, use that classical coaching however then additionally attempt to determine methods to make my voice sound edgier or louder or simply extra rock ‘n’ roll at instances.
BIANCULLI: That is nation singer and songwriter Margo Value talking with Terry Gross in 2017. We’ll hear extra after a break. And we’ll keep in mind Larry Kramer, the author and AIDS activist who died of pneumonia on Wednesday. He was 84 years previous. Here is extra of Margo Value’s tune “All American Made,” which is included in her album of stay performances recorded on the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The album is known as “Completely Imperfect At The Ryman,” and it is now out there on-line with proceeds to learn the MusiCares COVID-19 Reduction Fund. I am David Bianculli, and that is FRESH AIR.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “ALL AMERICAN MADE”)
PRICE: (Singing) Awakened from a film I instantly forgot. Received a heartache on the underside and a headache on the highest. The a part of me that hurts the worst is the one I simply cannot spot. And it is all American made. The levee the place I’m going, any individual places me within the dust. And the whole lot I say any individual says they stated it first. However I do not want 10 million, child. Simply give me one which works. It is all American made. Effectively, all of the Midwest farms are turning into plastic properties. And my uncle began ingesting when the financial institution denied the mortgage. However now it is liver failure and his mad cow being cloned. And it is all American made. Effectively, I’ve been throughout, however I can not assist feeling caught. One thing in my bloodline, or one thing in my intestine says drive on out to Nashville in a rusted pickup truck. It is all American made.
BIANCULLI: That is FRESH AIR. I am David Bianculli in for Terry Gross. We’re listening again to an interview Terry recorded in 2017 with nation singer and songwriter Margo Value. In the mean time, she’s sheltering at residence together with her husband and two kids in Nashville.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)
GROSS: So that you write a whole lot of songs along with your husband, Jeremy Ivey, who’s additionally a musician, who’s featured in your album taking part in bass, guitar, harmonica. How did you begin writing songs collectively? Like, which got here first, having a relationship or writing songs?
PRICE: Effectively, we met by way of music. We met at a Belmont School social gathering, the place neither of us have been going to highschool. We have been simply hanging out with all these hip musicians, and I had needed to go there however could not actually afford the schooling. And so we have been hanging out, and we met, and he was popping out of a divorce and actually did not need a relationship.
However yeah, the primary evening we frolicked, we each performed a tune for one another, after which the connection sort of grew out of our love for music. And he offered me this eight-track digital recorder. And so I might name him on a regular basis to determine – I did not actually know the way to work all of the buttons on it, and I might name him and be like, oh, I bought the reverb caught on this. I can not get it off. After which we began taking part in collectively.
I really began backing him up first. And I might – I used to be taking part in drums in a band of his. It was referred to as River Backside. After which I sort of – I broke up that band. I – there have been issues occurring in there, and I referred to as it out. And so then the 2 of us simply sort of began writing collectively and singing collectively and taking part in collectively and have not stopped but.
GROSS: So once you’re writing songs along with your husband, how is the method completely different from once you’re writing a tune by your self?
PRICE: Effectively, you understand, a whole lot of instances, we’ll convey concepts to one another that we will not end, or different instances, we are going to simply sit down and begin writing a tune collectively from the get-go. It is at all times completely different. Nevertheless it’s very nice to have the ability to write with somebody the place you simply discuss issues out within the room. And, you understand, we simply have this type of communication the place I really feel like generally after I’m speaking out loud, I do not know if I am saying it to him.
We simply share – we share a mind at this level. We have been collectively for about 14 years, and so it simply feels sort of like we’re speaking by way of issues, speaking the tune out. And if an concept is dumb, then we’re very fast to inform the opposite individual, and if it is nice, then, you understand, we nourish it and encourage it. So yeah, it is at all times completely different.
GROSS: One of many songs that you just co-wrote along with your husband that is on the brand new album, “All American Made,” is known as “Studying To Lose,” and that is a duet with you and Willie Nelson. So that you have been fortunate sufficient to have him sing with you on the album. So of all of the songs you might’ve chosen to say, sing this one with me, why was it that tune?
PRICE: Effectively, once we have been writing that tune, we have been listening to a whole lot of Willie Nelson data. And you know the way it’s once you get impressed by an artist and also you sort of undergo lengthy phases of listening to them and actually digging in deep. And so yeah, that tune we wrote in our bed room. I had a cup of espresso. I used to be sporting my gown. We simply barely wakened. And Jeremy grabbed the guitar. And we simply sat there. And it got here out so shortly. And proper once we completed it, we began pondering and saying to one another, would not it’s wonderful if we will get Willie Nelson to sing on this tune?
GROSS: Effectively, why do not we hear that tune with you and Willie Nelson? That is “Studying To Lose.” And it is from my visitor Margo Value’s new album, “All American Made.”
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “LEARNING TO LOSE”)
WILLIE NELSON: (Singing) And the one satan I’ve ever seen was within the mirror. And the one enemy I do know is in my thoughts.
MARGO PRICE AND WILLIE NELSON: (Singing) Will not you inform me how lengthy should I repay these dues? Will not you inform me, is successful studying to lose? You stated it, oh, however say that it isn’t true. Is successful actually studying to lose?
GROSS: That is Margo Value and Willie Nelson dueting on a tune she co-wrote together with her husband Jeremy Ivey. The tune is known as “Studying To Lose,” and it is from her new album, “All American Made.”
So, you understand, when it comes to, like, shifting to Nashville to, like, launch your performing profession there, one of many sort of central tales about your early profession was the way you and your husband offered the automotive and pawned your marriage ceremony ring so that you just’d come up with the money for to pay for the studio time to make your first album.
PRICE: Yeah, we sort of put all our eggs in a single basket. And it was actually scary. He simply got here into the kitchen one morning. And he is like, that is it. We’re by no means going to have the ability to save up sufficient cash to make the document that you just want. And so I am simply going to promote the automotive. And I attempted to speak him out of it, however he went right down to Gallatin Street and offered it to Carmax. (Laughter) And he got here residence, after which we booked the studio time the very subsequent day.
GROSS: And your ring, too, you pawned that?
PRICE: Yeah. We went – I went to about three completely different pawn outlets. And none of them needed to offer me very a lot as a result of there was a crack in it. And it is lacking one of many little diamonds on the aspect. However they have been going to offer me 300 bucks. And we simply agreed to do away with something that did not go well with us. And we did promote some music gear, too. However, you understand, the ring, it did sort of hit residence. And my husband stated, it is only a materials possession. It would not matter. And whereas I agreed with him, I nonetheless appreciated my marriage ceremony ring with the chip in it. And so he ultimately went again and bought it out of the hock for me.
GROSS: And you’ve got it now?
PRICE: I do. I am really it. It is nonetheless bought a crack. And it is nonetheless lacking one of many diamonds.
PRICE: Have not even went to go get it fastened.
BIANCULLI: We’re listening to an interview from our archives with Margo Value. We’ll proceed her dialog with Terry Gross after a break. That is FRESH AIR.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHARLIE HADEN FEAT. ROSANNE CASH SONG, “WILDWOOD FLOWER”)
BIANCULLI: That is FRESH AIR. Let’s return to Terry’s 2017 interview with Margo Value, the nation singer and songwriter.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)
GROSS: So you have stated that your dad and mom have been afraid that you just’d – they weren’t certain how it could lastly work out. So it is figuring out actually good, however they did not know that on the time. You might have a tune referred to as “Weekender,” which is about spending the weekend within the county jail. Did that occur to you?
PRICE: It did. Yeah, that was one of many lowest factors. I – you understand, I really feel like I would been working wild for fairly a while, and it was actually solely a matter of time earlier than it was all going to meet up with me. And got here residence one evening after staying at a good friend’s – and I had tried to name a cab, and the cab did not come. It was sort of earlier than Uber and Lyft have been actually in cities.
And I simply made some unhealthy – I should not have pushed. I assumed I used to be fantastic. I – you understand, I gave it time, I ate some meals, I waited a very long time, however I ended up hitting a phone pole in entrance of a pair cops after which thought of outrunning them for a bit of bit. After which I noticed that wasn’t potential, so I lastly pulled over and walked the road.
And yeah, I bought an excellent lawyer, however I’ve nonetheless – nonetheless needed to go do that weekend in jail. And he had advised me – he is like, oh, it is simply – it is a white-collar factor. It isn’t going to be an enormous deal. It is actually not going to be scary. And after I confirmed up on the Davidson County jail, I noticed that I used to be in there with, you understand, individuals who had murdered individuals and finished some actually unhealthy issues.
And simply being in there was a eye-opening expertise in multiple methods, extra than simply, you understand, for self-motivation to get higher and by no means find yourself again there once more. Nevertheless it was additionally – it was simply unhappy to see ladies who have been in that state of affairs and whose lives had taken them there, and so…
GROSS: Have been you injured within the accident?
PRICE: No, I wasn’t. Yeah, I used to be sporting my seat belt, and, you understand, it was late at evening. No one else was round. Nevertheless it was actually scary for my husband as a result of they referred to as him, and he thought that I had died, the best way that they, you understand, sort of defined it at first. Yeah, after that occurred, I actually realized that I used to be not taking good care of myself. And I give up ingesting for an excellent very long time, at that time.
GROSS: Are you able to do, like, a verse of “Weekender”?
PRICE: Yeah, yeah.
(Taking part in guitar).
Let’s have a look at.
(Taking part in guitar, singing). Effectively, I went right down to the county jail, turned myself in, spending all my weekends right here, removed from my good-timing mates. Issues went unhealthy. Issues went worse. I assume you understand the tip. The one factor I do know for certain is I ain’t going again once more. They took me right down to cell block B after stripping off my garments, put me in a monkey go well with and threw me within the throes like a rat in a maze, a cow in a herd or a sparrow with damaged wing. Now I do know the explanation why the caged hen has to sing as a result of I am only a weekender within the Davidson County jail. My previous man ain’t bought the money to even go my bail. Ought to’ve listened to my mama, possibly give up my lifetime of sin earlier than I went backsliding once more.
This one is – this one could be my favourite.
(Singing) Now, the mattress is difficult, and the room is chilly. My cellmate’s bought a cough. She takes her meds and sleeps all day, bought six extra weeks until she’s off. She stated she beat her boyfriend up whereas excessive on crack cocaine. Now she sits and watches her younger life go down the drain as a result of she’s only a weekender within the Davidson County jail, and her previous man ain’t bought the money to even go her bail. She ought to’ve listened to her mama, possibly her give up her lifetime of sin earlier than she went backsliding once more.
GROSS: Aw (ph), thanks for singing that. That tune, “Weekender,” is on Margo Value’s first album, which is known as “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter.” Margo Value, thanks a lot, and thanks for being so beneficiant and singing and taking part in for us. It was actually simply fantastic. Thanks very a lot.
PRICE: Sure, thanks.
BIANCULLI: Margo Value visited FRESH AIR in 2017. Her on-line charity album amassing a few of her stay performances with particular company at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, is known as “Completely Imperfect At The Ryman.” It is out there now on the web site Bandcamp. She’s additionally engaged on a brand new album due this summer time. After a break, we keep in mind Larry Kramer, the author and AIDS activist who died Wednesday at age 84. That is FRESH AIR.
(SOUNDBITE OF DANIEL FREEDMAN’S “LOVE TAKES TIME”) Transcript offered by NPR, Copyright NPR.