Ruthie Collins is the proud owner of a cute little cottage in East Nashville. It’s so adorable, in fact, that she lists it on Airbnb half the year. So, on the nights her bohemian home is rented, she sleeps in her airstream parked in the driveway of her dear friend and fellow songwriter Natalie Stovall.
It’s in the tiny space of her house on wheels that she writes her best music. Somewhere around 2 a.m.—or whenever inspiration strikes—Collins will sit at her piano or occasionally pick up her guitar and knead her real-life feelings into song.
“I just really love to write from true emotion and true experiences,” she says. “I’ve really been concentrating on being present in the writing process. It’s something I’ve been trying to practice in my life, and that definitely filtered over into my writing.”
After years of co-writes, which Collins compares to an endless string of blind dates, the Americana songstress penned the majority of her new music by herself from the comfort of her airstream. Of course, the occasional co-write with Stovall is inevitable, given their BFF status. “There’s lots of times where I call her up and I’m like, ‘I can’t write this song by myself. Can you please come out to the driveway?” Collins shares, adding, “I’m trying to get back to how I began songwriting, which is when I’m inspired. You can’t really put inspiration on a Google calendar, you know. It doesn’t really work like that for me.”
For Collins, living in the moment has translated to writing in the moment, a new routine that has been honed the hard way. Her latest wistful songs—the dream-like “Joshua Tree” and the regret-filled “Dang Dallas”—were written during a season when music felt like therapy for the songwriter, following a devastating breakup with an ex battling addiction.
“In the past few years, I’ve had some life experiences that were so transformative that I just couldn’t sings songs that didn’t feel real to me anymore. I just want to sing my truth,” she says. “You’re not going to get a sugarcoated version of me anymore. I did that for a really long time, and it didn’t really serve me or anybody else, honestly. I don’t know that I was someone people would look at on Instagram and go, ‘She’s in love with an addict. Her life is messy.’ My life’s not perfect, and we’re all going through the same real struggles. So it felt like my responsibility, in a way, to take on some of those issues. I’m just going to sing about what I’m really going through in the hopes that maybe that will touch someone out there who’s going through that specific thing as well.”
Today, her Instagram is filled with unfiltered photos of the singer in a happier phase of life, where she’s found health and healing on the other side of disappointment. In addition, she writes about her struggles and dreams on her blog, The Book of Ruthie, where she also shares everything from book and podcast recommendations to design tips and wellness routines.
“I’m an open book,” she says. “Your emotions are your own, and you have a right to those. You feel these feelings to get to the hope on the other side of them.”
On the other side of her feelings, in this hopeful place, Collins has unearthed the best songs of her career and the biggest blessings of her life in days filled with music, friendship and travel. In fact, she’s combining her love of songwriting and her wanderlust this fall and embarking on an adventure out West.
After experiencing the magic of Joshua Tree National Park, the centerpiece for her song, “Joshua Tree,” she felt drawn to spend more time in California. So she decided to make a road trip out of it. And she’s bringing fans along for the journey with her new “Ticket To Ride” promotion, which unlocks exclusive access to updates and photos from her trip, as well as handwritten postcards and souvenirs from iconic stops along the way. As she makes her way to California, she’ll also be working on new songs, putting the finishing touches on her sophomore LP due in 2020 via Sidewalk Records, a division of Curb Records.
“It’s definitely the scariest thing I’ve ever put out there in a lot of ways,” she says of her new music. “I’m kind of unapologetic about just saying what I want to say. I don’t really have too much of a filter. You have to speak your truth when you have the opportunity, because you might not get another opportunity.”