Sunday, October 24, 2010

Taylor Swift Speaks Now!

We had a chance to "speak now" with Taylor on her new CD.

So what's this record about? This album is about the last two years of my life, and it seemed like every emotion I felt was intense. I feel like trying to navigate love and relationships are what I’ve written about on this album.

So at what point did you know the album was done? There was a moment when I knew this album was done. It was when I’d written a song called “Story of Us.” I knew I needed to talk about that part of that relationship in particular, and the pain it causes you. So that’s when I put it down and knew I’d written everything for this album.

That's a sad song, yet it sounds joyous: I think it’s fun to write songs where the way the music sounds is different than what the lyrics say. Like the song "Speak Now" is about a dramatic situation where you’re interrupting a wedding where your ex-boyfriend is about to get married, and you crash into the whole thing, make this speech in front of everyone, and they’re horrified that you’re there, but it’s said with an uptempo kind of glint of the eye. I like the juxtaposition of a happy skippy melody and a sinister lyric.

Why did you title the album Speak Now? For me, calling the album Speak Now comes from the song Speak Now, which is based on the moment in wedding when they say “speak now or forever hold your peace.” And I think that’s a metaphor for a lot of situations we find ourselves in life, where we wait to say how we feel until it’s almost too late.

Talk about song #13: The song Last Kiss is one of the most personal songs I’ve ever written. It talks about completely reminiscing on a relationship, almost like the last email you’ll write but never send, it’s the most desperate of desperate songs I’ve written. You wish you could say “I miss everything about you that you didn’t know I noticed. Why is this over?” So it’s a gut-wrenching song, and pretty fitting that it’s song #13.

You wrote a song on the last album for winning Horizon Award. So was there a song on this album for winning entertainer? There is a song called Long Live, the last song on the album, and it’s a song to my crew who did this with me, the fans, all the people I jumped up and down with in the last 2 years. It makes references to Grammy night, CMA night, and talks about how I feel about all of those accomplishments. It deals with it from every angle, like you never know if it’ll ever happen again, so celebrate it. That’s an important song for me and a reason why it’s last.

You recently did a songwriter benefit for Hall of Fame, why did you do a benefit for them? Country Music Hall of Fame has always been important to me, because the history of country music matters. The fact that people can come to Nashville and be reminded of that, it’s something that’s fascinating to me. Also, selfishly getting to be in the room with Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, and Lionel Ritchie, it wasn’t hard to talk me into that. I remember being blown away with how authentic those people were. Talking about life and music, Kris Kristofferson blows me away, so much wisdom. I love Lionel, the background on my phone now is a picture of us giving each other a high five.

The photos, the cover, what’s the story: Doing the photo shoot for the album booklet is important because I want to visualize all the songs on the record. There are songs that conjure a visual, and I’m excited for people to see the booklet, because there are pictures that pretty clearly show what each song is about. The cover image is one I chose because there’s a look on my face that I’m about to say something. I like to show movement, like on the last album with my hair, and this time it’s movement in my dress, like a painting, and that’s a theme on the entire album. It’s a striking purple, I like that color and I’m glad it’s on my album

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Trace Adkins Gets Stuck

By now, you've probably seen the video of Trace Adkins trying to get into NASCAR legend Richard Petty's car. If you haven't, here it is:

As it turns out, the video only tells half of the story. When Trace co-hosted Country Countdown USA, he told Lon Helton, "Getting in it wasn't that difficult. Getting OUT was the hard part! I thought they were literally gonna have to cut the top off and get the jaws of life to get me out of there. I started to kind of panic cause I couldn’t get out of the dang car."

Actually, if you watch the video, you can see the main problem was there is no door. Drivers get in through the window. Getting out simply reverses the process. As Trace said, "There’s no room to maneuver to get out that window. You have to get out of the seat and turn and slide out on your back. It’s a young man’s game, I’ll tell you."

So the question is: Trace, how did they finally get you out? "Due to humiliation, I was not gonna remain stuck in that car. I was gonna claw my way out somehow. Finally I was able to wriggle my way out."

Trace Adkins co-hosted Country Countdown USA over the weekend of August 14-15. His new CD, "Cowboy's Back In Town," will be released on August 17.

LISTEN to Trace tell this story HERE:

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Last October, Keith Urban hosted the All for the Hall benefit for Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame & Musem. At the time, he said he hadn't toured the facility in a few years, and was hoping to also bring his wife Nicole Kidman. That tour finally happened last week. Keith told Country Countdown USA host Lon Helton that he and his wife received a private tour of the Hall on March 31st. "There's so much to see, and we only had an hour. Don Williams, who's one of my absolute all time heroes, had just sent a few things to the Hall for display, including his hat with the little acorns on the front. It was heavy for me to see that. He also sent in some original lyrics, and it was great to be able to see actual changes he made in the manuscript." But that wasn't Keith's only contact with his idol. He told Lon that earlier, he received a phone call from the legend. "I was driving in my car, my phone rings and don't recognize the number, so I answer it hesitantly, and this booming baritone voice says, 'Hey is this Keith? It's Don Williams.' And I literally didn't know what to do. I almost wrecked the car. That was one of the best phone calls I ever got in my life." Don will officially become a member of the Hall next month. Keith says he's hoping to attend.

Keith will encounter Hall of Famers from the Rock world in June when he plays several stadium shows with The Eagles. "We got a call from The Eagles management about us going out with them, and we thought it was a great chance to play. I mean, when will I get a chance to play with The Eagles? It's going to be fantastic." Also on the bill will be the Dixie Chicks. Keith once played guitar on their song, "Some Days You Gotta Dance" from their second CD. But he told Lon he hasn't seen them in a long time. "I haven't heard from them or had much to do with them in a long time. It's been a while since I've seen them." Keith will do five stadiums in June.

Keith has been touring less in 2010, which gives him more time to spend with his wife and daughter. Sunday Rose is now 20 months old, and he told Lon he's been enjoying fatherhood. "When she goes 'daddy,' I go, Wow that's me! That keeps coming on at different times. I never thought it would happen for me, because it happened later in life. I got to where I thought maybe it's not my journey, and that's OK. But lo and behold we had a little girl. We went driving this morning to get some coffee, and she's in the back going 'dubadubadub' so we just started singing along, and she was giggling, I just love it. I think she's got a good musicality about her. Sometimes if I warm up my voice, I hear her imitating me."

Keith Urban is Lon Helton's co-host on Country Countdown USA over the weekend of April 10-11, 2010. For audio and pictures, go to

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Carrie Underwood learned something new when she sang the National Anthem at this year’s Super Bowl. She tells Lon Helton of Country Countdown USA that she never knew people bet money on the time it takes to sing the anthem. “We went to a party, and more than anything men would come up and ask. “How long do you think the anthem’s gonna be.’ People even texted Mike, my fiancĂ© how long it was gonna be. I said, ‘That’s cheating! What time do they have for it?’ They said ‘1:42.’ But I felt like I was cheating. I felt dirty. If I lost some people some money, I’m sorry. I didn’t have music. I had a click track in my ears, so I could keep some sort of time, but it dropped out at the end. So I could have gone faster or slower.”

The Super Bowl was just one of the topics they discussed. Carrie also performed in the Michael Jackson tribute at the Grammy Awards. “It was great, the coolest part for me was being in rehearsal with Celine Dion, Usher, Jennifer Hudson and Smokey Robinson, everybody walked in, no egos, they were there for a common purpose, to honor someone in a way the people around him wanted to be honored. They could have picked any one of his songs, but they wanted “Earth Song” because that was his love and passion. It was cool they asked us to do that song. I never met Michael, but the people who had, to see how emotional they got, made me want to do my best. I met Smokey Robinson before, but never sang with him. He’s just warm and sweet. There was one moment when we were in rehearsal, someone said we should do something, and he said, ‘I second that emotion.’ It was really cool. Celine Dion was amazing. All the ladies were in one dressing room, and she was doing her vocal warm-ups, and it was really cool. She does stuff I can’t do. She speaks in French a lot too. I didn’t know what she was saying.”

Carrie has branched into acting lately. She appeared in an episode of the CBS-TV show “How I Met Your Mother.” Carrie told Lon it was her first real TV show experience. “It was good, I’d do it again. While you’re filming it, the clothes and hair were different for me because I was playing a character. I usually wear a lot more make-up, and they had me more natural. I got to play with a pig, that was cool. We had a little problem with the pig. They were three days old, and they were adorable, but at one point, one of my co-stars said, ‘What is that?” And it was on my dress, so you can imagine what it was. So I had to ask for a new dress. They just had one back-up dress. The pig didn’t mess that one up.”

One other acting project on Carrie’s schedule this year is a movie called “Soul Surfer,” the true story of Bethany Hamilton, a surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack. Carrie told Lon, “There’s so many amazing things in this story. Her dad was in surgery when they brought her in. Not only did she bounce back afterwards, but she learned how to surf with one arm.” Carrie character plays an integral part in Bethany’s rehabilitation. “I was her youth leader who was instrumental in helping them all through. I’m honored. This is one of those things at the end of my career and think I was a part of it. It doesn’t matter how many people see it. It was a wonderful thing to be a part of. It makes you want to be a fighter. If she can face that, you can face anything.”

Back in February, Carrie appeared at the annual Country Radio Seminar in Nashville. Her record label puts together an incredible show for radio programmers, and Carrie did a couple of very special duets. The first was with Miranda Lambert on the classic Cree dance Clearwater Revival song “Traveling Band.” Carrie says the song was Miranda’s idea. “I asked to sing with her, and texted her about it, but didn’t know what to sing. So she says, ‘I like old rock,’ and we went back and forth on a song until I said, ‘What about CCR?’ She goes, ‘I love them.’ And she suggested Traveling Band because her band knew it, so we did it. But we never rehearsed it. That was the first time we sang it. That was a lot of fun. I think that’s going to be the first of more. I also told my record label that we need to do some side project with all the women. Write our own stuff, see what we can do.” Then at the end, rocker Bryan Adams was introduced, did a couple hits by himself, then brought out Brad Paisley, and then it was Carrie’s turn to sing. “I got to sing “It’s Only Love” with Bryan, he originally did that with Tina Turner, and he’s a nice guy. I was impressed at us! We had a lot of fun, there was one note when we were singing, and we both held it for a crazy amount of time. We were able to let loose and have some fun.”

Lon Helton's interview with Carrie Underwood aired on Country Countdown USA over the weekend of March 27-28, 2010. Excerpts are available at the show's website,