Miranda Lambert shared a glimpse into her life on Tuesday evening (Sept. 19) when the singer hosted a CMA Songwriters Series taping for Front & Center at Nashville’s Marathon Music Works. The night served as a celebration of her double album The Weight of These Wings being certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Lambert shined the spotlight on her co-writers from the project.
“This night is all about celebrating songwriters and who they are as people and how they let their lives inspire their art,” Lambert said several songs into her hour-long set.
Performing more than half the songs featured on The Weight of These Wings, Lambert invited several of her co-writers to the stage as they rehashed how many of the album’s tracks came to be. Lambert, who did no press to promote the album, was an open book as she shared some of the dark times that inspired the more vulnerable songs on the project.
“This is a record that is very much a story about my last couple of years and everything you go through in life,” she explained. “When you go through something in your life that’s really hard and you have the privilege and the blessing to be able to write songs, [you] use that to get you through it. Everybody that’s here tonight who’s a songwriter on this record completely embraced where I was whatever day that was. I was all over the map and these people were in the trenches with me.”
The lead single off the album was “Vice,” a song Lambert penned with Josh Osborne and Shane McAnally. A track she says she wrote in the trenches, the lyrics have her singing openly about her own vices. When McAnally joined her on stage he recounted their writing session, admitting that he was in awe at Lambert’s honesty in every lyric.
Lines like, “Another vice, another call / Another bed I shouldn’t crawl out of / At 7 a.m. with shoes in my hand / Said I wouldn’t do it, but I did it again,” struck the longtime songwriter.
“I like to remind myself, and everyone here, how important these kinds of songs and moments are. The fact that she came in this day and I feel like you took your heart out of your chest and you put it on the table,” McAnally confessed.
Lambert was quick to chime in, admitting that she brought a roller cooler full of alcohol to help her get through the writing session.
“When she showed up with, not just the roller cooler, but this vulnerability of, ‘Let’s do this. Let’s talk about this. Let’s write a song,’ I remember I kept looking at you and saying, ‘You’re not going to say that.’ And you said, ‘Yeah.’ With every line. I don’t think you had gotten into the cooler yet.”
“But I did, don’t worry,” Lambert said with a big grin.
The two songwriters then played “Vice” acoustic with the help of three guitars and the stripped down vibe felt as if the audience was in the living room, or on Lambert’s “magic porch” as she called it, when the song was written. In fact, this was exactly what Lambert intended the night to be.
Lambert didn’t shy away from any details on how some of the more poignant songs came together, mostly written after her 2015 divorce from Blake Shelton. One of the highlights on her record is the rollicking “Ugly Lights,” penned with Liz Rose and Natalie Hemby, in which she talks about nights of drinking, drives of shame and serious hangovers
“I did get divorced in 2015 and I did start drinking a lot,” she said slowly. “I did go to bars in Midtown; Losers and Winners a lot. I had to pick up my car and it had been there three days. I still had mascara on from the first day. These gals came over and we were going to write a song and I had kind of written it on my way home from picking up my car. It was on a Monday.”
While Lambert showcased her vulnerability time and time again, she also shared her happiness with her audience. The singer brought up boyfriend Anderson East to perform the first song they wrote together with Hemby called “Getaway Driver.” She introduced East to the stage, quipping that she’s “more than friends” with him. While East kicked off the first verse which highlighted his soulful vocals, Lambert and Hemby sat beside him and traded lines throughout the remainder of the song.
Later, Lambert admitted that one of the album’s most memorable love songs “Pushin’ Time” actually came to fruition after she and East had a fight.
“It was all lovey-dovey, then we got in a fight because that’s how it always goes. I was pissed ’cause that is also how it goes,” she said with a laugh. “He tried to smooth it over and I go, ‘Are you going to break up with me?’ And he goes, ‘I think I’ll wait 60 years.’ So sweet, right?”
The night included additional performances with co-writers McAnally, Hemby and Luke Dick on the fun ode to the road “Highway Vagabond,” Jack Ingram and Jon Randall on the powerful “Tin Man,” Brent Cobb and Adam Hood on the nostalgic “Good Ol’ Days,” Aaron Raitere on the light-hearted “For the Birds” and “Tomboy,” and Waylon Payne on the traditional “To Learn Her.”
The sweetest moment, though, came from Lambert’s first-ever co-writer — her dad. Towards the end of the evening Lambert brought up her father, Rick, to perform a song they penned years prior called “Greyhound Bound for Nowhere.” Featured on her 2005 debut, Kerosene, Lambert said it was the first time they ever performed the song live aside from a campfire years ago.
“You don’t have anything if you don’t have good songs,” Lambert said as the night came to a close. “I’m so thankful that I can say some of my best friends in the world also get down in the trenches with me and put words on paper and it’s very healing. Music is medicine, it truly is.”