Nashville-based, Illinois-raised, All American Made Margo Price is a songwriter with a foot in country’s past, another in soul/rock, her mind on the state of her troubled country, and the rest of her body in the as-yet-unwritten future for rootsy Americana.
As she explained late last year (HERE) all those things matter because all those things are part of her.
Before coming here in a matter of weeks for her first Australian tour, taking in the Out On The Weekend festival as well as side shows in Sydney and Melbourne, she talked about the things that marked her, the moments that changed her on the way to her two solo albums and one EP.
In the first of two parts - come back Thursday for part two - there’s casseroles and LSD (but not together), Emmylou Harris and Margo herself (this time together) and an author called Leonard.
Before we get into the past, the future for Margo Price includes a one-off single with producer Matt Ross-Spang for Amazon Prime called Leftovers. It’s a song notable for many things, not least rhyming asshole with casserole. Which is no small achievement.
“I was pretty proud of that rhyme,” Price says. “That came before the song.”
But the line, and the song have a bit more history than that even. Though the full story it seems must remain a mystery, for now.
“I had been approached by a legendary country singer that was around in the 70s and she wanted to know if I had any songs that might be good for her to cut. I had been tossing around this idea of a song called Leftovers, about people dating your ex and sloppy seconds, or whatever other phrase comes to mind,” she says with a wicked laugh.
“I wrote it and I pitched it to her and she actually really loved it, but she hadn’t started recording it. I knew that this project with [producer] Matt Ross-Spang was just going to be a single, a one-off, and I thought I’ll take my Leftovers song and record it for fun. I asked the artist if she minded, and she didn’t, so I’m really hoping that she still records it.”
Yes, but who is it????
“I can’t wait to tell you,” she says. “It’s been hard not to tell anyone.”
While we wait then, here’s some hit and run questions on other things that matter, beginning with one of her great influences.
Best Emmylou Harris moment
“The first time I met her we sang Two More Bottles Of Wine [which Harris originally recorded in 1978] together and I was kind of losing my voice when we had the rehearsal. And she made me feel so comforted and she was like ‘you don’t have to explain that to me, I know all about it’. The next night my voice was back, we sang together, and it was so cool to trade voices with her.
“She is such a kind soul and I’ve gotten a lot of great advice from her and I’m really looking forward to playing her benefit here in Nashville, called Woofstock. We’re going to do a couple of more duets and it’s all to benefit her dog sanctuary, and I really admire her for that. She’s got a heart of gold.”
The book that changed or marked her.
Leonard Cohen – The Favorite Game
“I have read that book more than any other book. It’s just so beautifully written and I admire him as a songwriter, but I also really love the books he was writing before he became a songwriter,” she says.
“In a lot of ways it was dark and funny and self-deprecating, and it had all the right amounts of poeticism and humour sprinkled in. People knew that it was loosely based on his family and childhood and I thought it was so cool that he was able to come up with a lot of those ideas and bare his soul in it. It’s just a beautifully written book about growing up in falling in love. If you haven’t read it, I highly suggest it.”
The song that changed or marked her.
Kris Kristofferson - Me And Bobby McGee
“I think it’s so amazing, the way it’s a story that flows together. I read that it was based on a film Kris Kristofferson saw about this travelling couple, two drifters, who take off at the end the guy ditches the girl, leaves her by the side of the road. I love to how Bobby can be a woman or a man - it’s such a gender neutral song.”
The film that changed or marked her.
Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas
“It’s always been one of my favourite films. So out there.”
Has she ever been tempted to re-enact the mind-bending film of Hunter S Thompson’s mind-bending adventures? Surely not. Well …
“Well we were out in Vegas not too long ago: my husband and I went out there to celebrate his 40th birthday. My sister lives there and she is a performer in one of the oldest running shows in Las Vegas,” says Price. “We partied pretty hard and we played a lot of blackjack, we went to Circus Circus [resort and hotel], where a lot of the film was made.
“A long time ago when I [first] watched it I was probably 22 years old and I had a friend come over and he put liquid acid on my tongue and then my husband said ‘you have to watch this film, you are on acid and you’re gonna see this’. It was an adventure.”
And these days, as happened earlier this month, when she does acid she might out-Hunter. S the now departed Hunter S and do an online Q&A while tripping.
“Yes,” she laughs. “I don’t take hallucinogenics all that often but I was playing with Widespread Panic, I was at a hippy festival, and I thought why not take a little bit of this gift that I had been given. I had an incredible time and I thought wouldn’t it be really fun to do a question and answer thing on Twitter because I feel like I was totally uninhibited and I didn’t overthink things. It’s like truth serum a little bit.”
Come back on Thursday to find out about Margo Price doing time on a tap dancing chain gang. Sorry, there were no drugs involved. Probably.
Margo Price will play
October 10 Caravan Music Club, Melbourne
October 12 Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne
October 13 Out On The Weekend Festival, Seaworks, Williamstown
October 14 Enmore Theatre, Sydney
October 16 Factory Theatre, Sydney