ACL Fest Friday Interviews
The Houston kid on Sex and Gasoline
Rodney Crowell12:30pm, AT&T stage
Rodney Crowell has long been respected as one of country music's elite songwriters. Following his unprecedented string of five straight No. 1 hits from 1988's Diamonds & Dirt, the Houston native seemed poised to become Nashville's new star. Yet in the mid-Nineties, after his divorce from Rosanne Cash, Crowell abandoned the mainstream spotlight.
"It meant nothing to me," reflects Crowell. "I had my 15 minutes of that, and when I stepped away, I kind of burned off the habits that you go through. When I came back to work, I really dedicated the work I was going to do to articulating my sensibilities. As I've let them teach me and tell me what they are, it's not about putting on silver-tipped cowboy boots and a tight pair of jeans. It's about what's in your heart.
"When you follow the poetry, it's a different choice."
Crowell's reflective maturity has defined his work since 2001's critically acclaimed The Houston Kid, his songwriting poignant, personal, and autobiographical, while never shying from social or political confrontations. His latest CD, Sex and Gasoline (Yep Roc), combines both elements in an empathetic attempt to understand the struggles of women within contemporary culture.
"The manifestation of it is that I watched someone really close to me struggle mightily with her place in the culture, pop culture," Crowell confirms. "In watching my loved one crash and burn, it set me to writing these songs. I would say, if anything, this album is a father's perspective.
"If I do my job and I trust myself to use the canvas that I have in front of me to work out my own understanding, and if you hear it and are able to draw your own understanding of yourself from it, then I have succeeded."