DIARY - 23 MAY 2005 - DEANA CARTER
OF DEANA CARTER'S LIFE
Deana Carter's six-year marriage to fellow singer Chris DiCroce broke
up she moved to West Hollywood and made movies and rhinestone light
"Every night I would get a bottle of wine, some glue and rhinestones,'
Carter, now 39, told Nu Country TV.
"I would drink the wine and crank up the radio. I rhinestoned
the back of the toilet, it was crystals. It looked like Liberace had
sat there. I'm so talented now at colour co-ordinating rhinestones."
The Nashville born singer-songwriter also branched out into acting
and script writing after arriving in California in 2001.
"I moved to LA out of a divorce that is not even final yet and
I was negotiating out of a record deal. There was so much transition.
I had more time to audition and practice and go to acting classes
and such between record deals."
a script for a sitcom Queen For A Day and appeared in a TV show
Carter also appeared in cult movie The Badge with singing actor-director
Billy Bob Thornton and Patricia Arquette - latter day lead of psychic
TV show Medium.
So it wasn't hard for the singer to find fertile phosphate for the videogenic
songs that adorn her sixth album The Story Of My Life.
"It was so honest," she revealed.
"It was risky of myself, creatively, to put myself out there. But
I followed it with my heart."
Deana draws parallels between her dad and herself in the title track of
The Story Of My Life.
FRED CARTER JR
born in a sixties winter/ my mum was young and my dad had an appetite/
a saint and a sinner/ wrestling with what's wrong and what's right."
- The Story of my Life - Deana Carter
Carter Jr is a famed session guitarist and kidney transplantee who
played on Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline and Simon & Garfunkel
classics The Boxer and Sounds Of Silence.
"His kidney transplant was 11 years ago this year," Carter
recalled. "He's doing great. I say my thanks every day for his
Carter has no qualms about tearing pages from her colourful life to
illustrate songs on her family and love.
"It's very literal," she said.
mum was young when they met, 10 years younger than him. I sing that dad
had an appetite. It had a double meaning. He was worldly and she was very
innocent. He was very driven for success - she was not."
So was this a natural extension of her huge hit Did I Shave My Legs
For This - the story of her embryonic relationship with an older man?
"Yes, we do mimic our parents in a lot of ways. I was in relationship
with a guy who was much older than me - either he was past his prime and
I was coming into mine.
There was nothing I could do to keep his attention."
left Goodlettsville High School at 17 and tried unsuccessfully for a record
deal but went to university instead.
Carter majored in rehabilitation therapy at the University of Tennessee
and took a job in 1989 as a therapist at Tennessee Christian Medical Centre,
working with stroke and head injury patients.
And after two years of juggling four jobs she followed her musical dream
and famed producer and label boss Jimmy Bowen signed her to Liberty Records
But her belated debut disc Did I Shave My Legs For This didn't
emerge for four years because of label changes.
The Bowen produced version featuring 12 original Carter songs was only
released in Australia and Europe.
"Jimmy Bowen was really a believer in me," Carter says.
"He signed me as an alt country artist - he made me write so many
songs for four years before I could record that album. Then we went in
and re-recorded the album."
The original version included her tune Rita Valentine and Turn
Those Wheels Around - one of three co-writes with Chuck Jones - and
dedicated to Willie Nelson who gave her live performing break at his July
She also included Graffiti Bridge penned with Pam Tillis's second
ex-husband Bob DiPiero and I Can't Shake You - collaboration with
confessed that much of the inspiration for her first album came
from childhood sweetheart and latter day Hollywood actor Jamie Denton.
Denton, a fellow Goodlettsville High graduate with a brace of TV
and movies, is best known here for his portrayal of Mike the plumber
in top rating Desperate Housewives.
He also appeared recently in Jag, Threat Matrix, West
Wing, Ally McBeal and Reba - starring Reba McEntire.
Her song Before We Could Even Say Goodbye - one of only three
songs to survive the second release of her debut disc - was a focus.
The others were her originals I've Loved Enough To Know and
the title track.
"He was my everything for about six years," Carter confessed.
was obviously the impetus for Before We Could Even Say Goodbye.
And even in Strawberry Wine. Many of my other songs are not
about him directly, more about the emotions I have carried - the
influence of him in my life in every relationship. He held the bar
in a lot of relationships. I still adore him - he's such a lovely
special person to me. He's such a special guy."
< Jamie Denton
U.S. debut disc was delayed when Bowen suffered cancer and retired and
was replaced by producer Scott Hendricks who slashed 25 acts.
Only Carter and Dean Miller - son of the late Roger - survived the cull.
Hendricks didn't feel the album was right for America and asked her to
find eight new songs and introduced her to producer Chris Farren.
was working through college on grandpa's farm/ I was thirsting for knowledge
and he had a car/ I was caught somewhere between a woman and a child/
when one restless summer we found love growing wild/ on the banks of a
river on a well worn path." - Strawberry Wine - Matraca Berg-Gary
new version featured Matraca Berg-Gary Harrison penned smash hit Strawberry
Wine and two other #1 hits - the Berg penned We Danced Anyway
and the title track.
"Matraca talked about the song being a reference to one of her
boyfriends and a farm in Missouri somewhere," Carter explained.
"So I would say "yes" it is based on a true story,
and it definitely hit my heartstrings and my first love too."
Carter wrote another hit Count Me In with Jones and Love
Ain't Worth Making and How Do I Get There with Farren.
sold more than five 5 million copies.
"It was just bizarre because it happened in six weeks," she
"It was so quick. It took so long for the radio airplay to catch
up to what the buzz was.
Radio really broke that record, and the buzz started within that. But
there were a lot of radio programmers who were reluctant to play it. So
you had this wave happening. When the other people got on it, it just
impacted it even more. Nobody knew. Nobody saw it coming. It was a very
different sounding song for the time. It was a progressive song - a 4:57
waltz about first love. It was really a phenomenon at the time."
But Capitol tried to replicate the success with similar songs on her next
"I was very pissed off," Deana recalled, "There was a record
company guy with a stop watch, saying can we get to the chorus 30 seconds
quicker. It was ridiculous. It wasn't about the music at all or the message
- more their mind set of a lot of people."
EVERYTHING'S GONNA BE ALRIGHT
by the river on the wrong side of town/ nothing much to do here but listen
to the sound/ of a train I'll never catch passin' me by/ of the muddy
water drinkin' the tears that I cry." - Dickson County - Deana
third album featured her father's composition Everything's Gonna
Be Alright as the title track.
It featured five Carter originals - she wrote The Train Song, Never
Coming Down and Michelangelo Sky with Farren and Chuck
Jones, Ruby Brown with Tim Krekel of The Sluggers and Dickson
County with Berg.
Dickson County - west of Nashville en route to Memphis - was once
home of seven times wed former convict and singing actor David Allan
Coe and fellow outlaw Steve Earle whose fourth wife became his sixth
after he split with his fifth spouse.
did not live together - I interviewed Coe at his rural complex in Dickson
in 1983 and Earle in Fairview in 1988.
"I always love to write with Matraca," Carter revealed.
"I was a big fan of hers before I got to write with her. If the label
wouldn't let me do my own songs I would go to her begging for songs. I
would say you and I are like the same person. She's so talented - any
chance I get to write with her I will."
wife of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band singer Jeff Hanna, is a prolific writer.
She released acclaimed solo disc Sunday Morning To Saturday Night
on Rising Tide in 1997 after two RCA discs The Speed Of Grace
and Lying To The Moon.
RCA later released a retrospective Lying To The Moon And Other
Stories featuring Rising Tide and RCA tracks including
Eat At Joe's from her unreleased 1991 album, Bittersweet
Berg's discs didn't have the sales clout of the Carter album that
sold 400,000 units and fuelled Carter's Greatest Hits in 2002.
< Matraca Berg
recorded a low profile Christmas album for Rounder before she left Capitol
and signed with Arista.
In the interim period Carter split with singing spouse Chris DiCroce whom
she met in 1991 and married in 1995.
DiCroce scored airplay on Nu Country FM in 2000-1 for his album American
Dream on his independent label Flyboy.
Ironically when Deana was busted for DUI in Nashville she was taken to
jail where a drug dealer asked her if she was married to Tim McGraw.
"I was signing autographs in jail, which was humiliating," Carter
JUST A GIRL
and tequila make me crazy/ you run like poison in my blood/ one more night
might be kill me baby/ one is too many and one more is never enough."
- You And Tequila - Deana Carter-Chuck Jones.
co-produced her Arista disc I'm Just A Girl with Dan Huff and included
12 of her original songs including two with Chuck Jones.
"I also had Chuck Jones songs on every album - but not on the
new record," Carter said.
"He was always important to me - maybe I'll write with him for
the next record."
The former cheerleader designed the cover as a magazine front page
to illustrate a co-write with Wendy Waldman of Cover Of A Magazine.
"I'm a magazine whore," Deana revealed.
magazines and articles. I was writing with Wendy Waldman and I've got
these magazines. All of these people are on the cover. I want to do that
sometime. It's my sick fantasy to be a Cosmo cover."
Many of those songs were divorce debris - good examples were Me And
The Radio and Goodbye Train, penned with Berg, and You And
Tequila, with Jones.
"This is a bummer, but at the same time, I was able to write about
it," Carter says.
"Here you are divorced, and you could consider dating your husband
again. I'm sure every song has some kind of undertone of what I was going
through with Chris. It was my life. Me And The Radio is probably the most
directed at my divorce and a turning point in my life to having to make
a conscious choice to move on. No matter what you do for a living all
we have is music to get through certain situations."
AND THE RADIO
headed out of town and man I feel like flying/ snow is on the ground and
everything is dying/ I'll come back alive when I cross 65." - Me
And The Radio - Deana Carter-Chuck Jones.
timing was off - it was released on the same day as the U.S. invaded Iraq.
It peaked at #6 on the albums chart and spawned only one #15 hit There's
Her hit appeared in an Eminem movie - she previously landed songs in Hope
Floats and Anastasia.
There was also a co-write with new neighbour Dwight Yoakam.
"He lives in LA four miles from my house," Carter says, "I
thought there are some people I want to write with. I called him and asked
him if he wanted to write. I didn't plan it on a duet until we got into
the room. It just worked out that way. Dwight is cool. He's a little edgier,
a little different. He's revered as an icon I think.""
But Deana was dumped from Arista just five months after I'm Just a
Girl was released in March 2003.
Ironically she received the news the day she returned from a tour with
Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban.
"The car had just dropped me off. My phone's ringing. I run in, trip
over my bags, answer the phone - and I'm dropped. I could not believe
got a friend that wears go-go boots to Sunday school/ we used to sit and
drink pink champagne on her tin roof/ riding it out in her Thunderbird,
singing out loud every single word of Jack and Diane" - One Day
At A Time - Deana Carter.
produced her sixth album at the home studio of James Michael - an
L.A.-based engineer, songwriter and musician.
She recorded the disc for California label Vanguard, distributed here
"No one at the record label heard a note until the album was
finished," Carter said.
Carter enlisted a long time friend to play her soul sister in the
video clip for the disc's first single One Day At A Time.
"The girl who plays my best friend in video is a very dear friend,"
dressed up as characters including Elvis and Kurt Cobain. She's from Alabama
- we met through my younger brother. She settled in L.A."
The vibrant video has been slotted into Series #4 of Nu Country TV in
"Thelma and Louise got nothing on me/ you can tell ol James Dean
to get in line/ thanks to Elvis and Kurt Cobain/ the world will never
be the same."
wanna write another love song/ until I know you're coming back to me."
- Deana Carter.
The post divorce era also flavoured her writing - hurting tunes I Don't
Want To Write Another Love Song, Getting Over You and Sunny Day.
"It was all literally true," Carter confessed.
"I could not write another song because of how broken I was. I went
into writing Sunny Day the same way, feeling I'm not good enough,
I can't sing. It was the belief system."
Carter's songs reach deep into her psyche.
"I Want To Be The Girl You Left Me For is fairly self explanatory,"
"It's the feeling you get as a woman when you look at this other
person your significant other is with. It's more so leaning toward. You
feel the relationship waning - and them enjoying it. All your doing is
you're wishing the other person could be you."
But is She's Good For You a sibling of Chely Wright tune I Got
Him Ready For You?
"It's the conversation you have with your ex about all the things
you once shared," she added.
"You say she's good for you and I'm happy about that for you but
it's bad for me - it sucks."
NO ORDINARY SONG
tune Ordinary - a bonus track on the Australian pressing of
I'm Just A Girl - was reprised on The Story Of My Life.
"I wrote it with Hilary Lindsay and Troy Verges," Carter
"It's about when you go through a break up and finally one day
you wake up feeling better. It takes a while but you feel so inspired.
You feel you are getting your Mojo back. I never released it in U.S.
Arista was kind enough to let me take the song and re-record it for
a fine line in car and city songs - the resurrected love song Atlanta
And Birmingham has the fodder for a video.
"I love videos," Carter says, "it's nice to have that extension
of your creativity."
Vanguard has sent different singles to country, Americana and mainstream
"Any album that I ever put out I'm going to send it to country radio
first," she says.
"We'll just see where it lands. I never excluded any genre on my
first record. I was just making a record I wanted to make. It's the same
thing on this one. I was just making music. I wasn't really trying to
do anything cognitively to take a path."
Another tune - not on the album - is available online.
"There's a song called Bleak Texas on Rolling Stone.com,"
Carter revealed, "my parents heard the un-bleeped version."
likes to run around/ in cotton panties and a crown/ she's driving all
the boys insane/ suckin' on a candy cane." - Katie - Deana Carter.
Carter confessed there were links between Rita Valentine from her debut
disc and Katie on her new album.
"I loved that song - Rita Valentine - thanks for bringing it up,"
"Katie is a combination of all the Katies - Katie Couric, Kate Beckinstall,
all these Kates in the entertainment industry. A real sweetness."
FAMILY DOCUMENTARY AND OZ TOUR
with her filmmaker fiancé Chris Hicky - father of her son Gray
Hayes - who created a documentary for CMT during her pregnancy.
He filmed her at home, on stage, in the studio recording the album, the
doctor's office, with family and in the hospital where she welcomed her
She became pregnant on the eve of recording and gave birth on September
15 - two weeks after finishing the album.
"I feel like there was a birth and re-birth all at the same time,"
"The new chapter has begun, and I couldn't be happier."
"It was very intense," says Deana.
"There was 90 hours of footage of me. It traced my pregnancy. It
also featured my dad at home."
Despite the immediate demands of motherhood the singer is keen to tour
"I'm begging my agents to get me to Australia and New Zealand,"
"It would be wonderful. I adore Keith Urban - he's so talented and
so cute, the whole bowl of wax. I couldn't believe he wasn't Mick Jagger
over there, he's so talented."
/ back to diary