Tuesday, August 19, 2008
– Rodney Crowell acknowledges he had his heyday years ago with "Diamonds & Dust," but he also was satisfied that he never achieved that same level of success again.
"I did have my 15 minutes of fame as a country star," said Crowell during an interview session with Rolling Stone's Anthony DeCurtis during the Americana Music Festival & Conference. "For me, it was one of the most miserable time of my life."
Crowell, who just released "Sex & Gasoline" (Yep Roc), said during his "Diamonds & Dust" days, he would walk in a room and people would say, "Oh, that's Rodney Crowell. I started to try to (be) that guy you were looking at."
Crowell said that if the success continued, he "was not going to be a very good artist."
"The best thing that ever happened tome is I did not have the (same) success on the next CD. (If I did), I wouldn't be the artist I am today."
After taking off five years to raise his daughters as a single parent, Crowell made "The Houston Kid" CD. "I decided to go back to work as the guy I was, and I've felt better ever since."
"I was scary to let it go," he said. "I had to fact the fact...that I wouldn't be relevant."
"It builds character," Crowell said of the struggle to reclaim his career.
When asked if he could still write a ditty, "I've lost my ditty chops," Crowell said to laughter. "About the best I could do commercially is try to capture a love song about my wife either when I'm trying to break up with her or make up with her on Valentine's Day."
"I would fall on my ass," he said of going commercial. "The few times I've tried that, I've failed miserably."
Crowell gets personal on "Sex & Gasoline" dealing with personal issues on the title track. "Someone who's very close to me is wracked by bulimia, and I don't know if she's ever going to come out of it," Crowell said of his daughter. "It scares me to death with the disease based on the culture that she came to age in."
"I bear in mind that I always come with a certain amount of audacity," Crowell said, referring to bulimia, "I take the liberty of thinking it might be entertaining. There's some audacity in even thinking that."
"I write one good song, Sex & Gasoline, and then I continue on. " The result was The Rise and Fall of Intelligent Design, which Crowell proceeded to play.
When asked about ambitions in starting out, Crowell said, "As a kid? Girls. I got a whole household. To be more direct, sex. I figured out early on, I was a scrawny kid."
"Performance is a sexual act as far as I'm concerned," Crowell said. "The mystery of being on stage and the light, it's a sexual thing. I don't think it's changed much since I was 13 years old." He said seeing Mick Jagger on Ed Sullivan Show was probably the first time he saw the sexual connection with performing.
WIth The Beatles, 'it wasn't so much what they were saying. It just exploded. I had a paper route and a transistor radio. I had a transistor radio on my handle bars."
Referring to the music he heard while biking, Crowell said, "Now, there's inspiration in the air and in the water, and it sounds so good."
At 14, he listened to Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues. "It was when I heard that sound of the radio, this is a paradigm, music from another planet that just got beamed down."
Crowell said it was a long time "before I could produce something that was mine."
Looking ahead, Crowell said he wants to be"part of the evolution of the musical landscape. We have to find ways to create our relevancy, to maintain our relevancy."
"There's a lot of opportunity coming up," Crowell concluded. "My challenge is to continue to believe in myself. I still don't know if I can do it again."