10 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 8, 2000
Moorer draws from tragedy, injects reality into Country music
The Los Angeles Times
HOLLYWOOD -- Allison Moorer still cringes at the
memory of picking up a British pop magazine recently
and seeing the headline: "Shelby Lynne's Little Sister
Spills the Beans on Family Tragedy."
The "tragedy" was the day in the mid-1980s when the
sisters' father shot and killed their mother and then
took his own life. Moorer steadfastly refused to talk
about that sensitive. episode in the flurry of interviews
that surrounded the 1996 release of her acclaimed debut
album, and the following year when one of her songs
was nominated for an Oscar.
But the 28-year-old singer-songwriter has finally
come to grips with the murder-suicide, and she shares
her feelings in a mournful song on her new album,
"The Hardest Part," which is due in stores Sept. 26.
Don't, however, look for "Cold, Cold Earth," in the
album credits. In a perhaps naive attempt to keep the
song from overshadowing the rest of the album, Moorer
added it at the end of the CD as a hidden track. You
have to let the album run for about 15 seconds after the
last credited song before "Earth" starts playing.
That didn't stop some critics in England from picking
up on the tune when the album was released there in
"It made me so mad," Moorer said of the headline in
Uncut magazine. "First of all, the song's not graphic ...
and I took myself out of the song. I never say 'I' or
'me' in this song. It's narrative. It would disturb me a
great deal if anyone thought I was trying to exploit the
"In the past, I didn't want to talk about (the deaths)
because I didn't see it as a news story," Moorer said.
"But I realized that I was doing my parents a disser-
vice by not talking about them, because all people ever
heard about them was that one incident. I wanted peo-
ple to know that their lives had a much more profound
influence on my life than their deaths did."
After years of trying to write a song about the deaths,
Moorer poured out her feelings in this stark, folk-style
tale of a man driven to momentary madness after break-
ing up with his wife.
The final lines: "Now they are lying in the cold cold
earth ... Such a sad, sad story ... such a sad, sad world."
The song has the fearlessness of great art, and there
are other moments in the album that also capture raw
emotional nerves in a way that makes it stand apart
from today's bland, sugar-coated country music.
That's why Moorer is seen by many in Nashville,
Tenn., as a commercial longshot despite all the glowing
reviews and the Oscar nomination for "A Soft Place to
Fall," which she co-wrote with Gwil Owen and was in
the film "The Horse Whisperer."
"She's a work project for us, but she's worth the
work," said MCA Nashville Records President Tony
Brown, who has produced albums for George Strait,
Wynonna and Lyle Lovett.
"She's one of those artists, like Steve Earle and
Lucinda Williams, who radio thinks is a little too com-
plex maybe to fit their playlists.
"But I think she'll break through. She's got a million-
dollar voice and I love her songs. We could try to gim-
mick up the records to try to make them more
radio-friendly, but I don't want to compromise what she
does just to get on radio. When you have someone this
talented, you don't want to interfere with her vision.
You just want to trust that vision."
Moorer, who is three years younger than her outspo-
ken and immensely talented sister Shelby Lynne, was
born in Mobile, Ala., and grew up in nearby Frankville,
a town so small it didn't have a traffic light. The girls'
mom was a legal secretary and their father worked at
various jobs, including as an English teacher and juve-
nile probation officer.
Both parents were musical. Moorer describes her
mother as a gifted singer with an incredible ear and a
love for country and early rock. She says her father
played in bands on weekends and loved the country out-
law movement, especially Waylon Jennings. He encour-
aged the girls to sing, taking them to fiddlers'
conventions so they could get some practice in front of
Moorer was 14 when her parents separated, a few
months before the murder-suicide took place outside
the family home.
"Shelby and I were at the house, but we were not
standing out in the yard, which is the story I see printed
in so many articles," Moorer said. "We did not see it
The teen-agers then moved in with their mother's sis-
ter, and Lynne soon headed to Nashville in pursuit of a
After high school, Moorer joined her and sang back-
up vocals on tour with her. But she didn't know about a
music career. She soon moved to Mobile to get a degree
in public relations at the University of South Alabama.
Moorer then returned to Nashville and went back on
the road with her sister. By this time, she had met her
future husband, Doyle Primm, who co-writes most of
her material. They started making demo tapes on a
four-track recorder in their kitchen.
Her break came when she was invited to perform
with a group of stars, including her sister and Lovett, at
a memorial tribute to singer-songwriter Walter Hyatt,
who was killed in a 1996 plane crash.
Although Moorer doesn't describe her new album as
a concept work, it's easy to look at the songs as clues in
a search through the tensions of relationships. Most of
them are about heartache and struggle. In one defining
line, she sings, "The hardest part of living is loving
'Cause loving turns to leavin' every time."
Despite the convincing ring of these sentiments,
Moorer says she's actually been lucky in love. She
describes her five-year marriage as solid.
Asked about the dark tone of the songs, Moorer, who
cites Kris Kristofferson and Bob Dylan among her
favorite writers, said, "I guess I get a lot of inspiration
for songs through stuff I saw my mother go through."
Moorer is aware of the challenge of finding an audi-
ence for music this personal in the slick, soulless cli-
mate of country radio.
"Country radio (programmers) don't want anything
that might distract listeners from whatever it is they are
doing," she said. "But I'm fed up with hearing about
how everything's great, and songs about 'I love you and
you love me, and isn't everything wonderful?' Well,
everything in life isn't always wonderful and we need to
FULBRIGHT PROGRAM FOR
STUDY & RESEARCH ABROAD
Courtesy ofmcoa nashville com/allisonmoorer
album, 'The Hardest Part,' will be
Allison Moorer's new
in stores Sept. 26th.
The IE Fulbright programs support study abroad in over 100 countries, providing grants for
-research, study and travel for selected countries, and various other opportunities such as
The competition is open to U.S. students at all graduate levels, and to seniors who will have
graduated by the time the award is to be used. Students need not to have international expe-
rience to be considered. Recent graduates and graduating seniors are not at a disadvantage.
Information sessions will be held in room 2609 of the International Institute on:
Wednesday, Sept. 6,3-5 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 7, 5-7 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 11, 5-7 p.m.
Application materials are available at the International Institute (located in the School of
Social Work Building). The U of M Fulbright Program Advisor is Kirsten Willis. Contact
her at 763-3297 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deadline for application: September 25, 2000
talk about that too. Wasn't that what Hank Williams
"I realize I have to have a certain amount of success
in order to be able to do this and I would love to have a
hit, but I'm not going to change who I am to get one."
Universit Lutheran Chapel
adS tudent Center
Sunday Worship 1030am
anSunday Supper 5:30pm
1511 Washtenaw Ave
near Hill St.)
astor Dave Winningham
university musical society 2000/2001
Half-Price Student Ticket Sale
FROM THE LATEST CHRIS RocK
9, 9 am-12 noon Hill Auditorium
VEHICLE, "- URSE BETTY." POSTERS,
BUTTONS, NURSE HATS, WE GOT IT
ALL. FIGHT THE POWERS THAT BE.
Mingus Big Band: Blues and Politics
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Giuseppe Sinopoli conductor
Brentano String Quartet
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
Dubravka Tomsic piano
Dairakudakan: Kuin No Uma (Sea-Dappled Horse)
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Choir
Manfred Honeck conductor
Sw dish Radio Choir and Eric Ericson Chamber Choir
ric Ericson conductor
~m uel Barrueco guitar
B011vt Pteljocoj: Paysage apres la Bataille
Prqu cha~amb"rOrchestra with the Beaux Arts Trio
Us Vialts du Roy
cademy of S rtin-in-the-Fields
Murray PO ia conductor and piano
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and
Heidi Grant Murphy soprano
8M2s Band of Battle Creek
Ronald K. Rwown/Evidence
0 *on Stnng Quartet and Peter Serkin piano
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam
Riccardo Chailly conductor
Matthias Goerne baritone
Emerson String Quartet
Inshn elVea bass-baritone
These Prices are just Too
Good to Pass Up!
It's easy! Just make your way to Hill
Auditorium Saturday morning and wait in
line to receive a sequentially numbered
Ticket Order Form (the number on each
order form indicates the order in which
it is going to be processed by the UMS Box
Office). Once you receive your order form
you have until 12 noon to fill it out with
the exact amount of tickets that you
and your friends would like to purchase
to each event. Turn it in and then go to
the UMS Box Office in the Power Center
beginning Wed, Sept 20 to pick up and pay
for your tickets. It's as simple as that!
+ Valid Student ID required
+ Limit 2 tickets per student, per event
+ Limit 8 tickets per event, per order form
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