A Conversation with Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez
Chip Taylor: Hi, Frank. You've got us both on.
Puremusic: Oh, beautiful. Hi, Carrie.
Carrie Rodriguez: How're you doing?
PM: Good. So, yeah, I was saying to Chip, perhaps you remember our meeting at the Americana Conference where you guys had all those to-go cartons in front of you and graciously pushed them aside so that I could snap a few photos.
PM: It's that guy calling you.
CT: Okay. And what's the name of this--
PM: It's a webzine called Puremusic.com. Actually, The Trouble with Humans is reviewed in this current issue.
CR: Yeah, I've seen that, Frank. It was a really nice review.
PM: Oh, thanks, yeah.
PM: It's just been running a few days, and it'll be up all month, but they're always available in the archives, so it will run forever. I really, really enjoyed the debut, Let's Leave This Town, but for me, The Trouble with Humans really operates at a higher level. And I guess that's understandable. You can really hear a duo that came together very powerfully.
CT: Well, thanks.
PM: I mean, how long had you guys been together when Let's Leave This Town went to tape?
CT: We met in 2001, at South By Southwest. So that's what month, Carrie?
CR: That's March. But I think we started touring in the fall, because that was--
CT: Yeah, we did a couple of shows in Texas, and then in October, just after 9/11, we were among the artists who decided to go to Europe anyway.
CT: And I remember Carrie was very ill then, so I thought for sure she was going to back away, especially with all the talk about not flying. But she didn't, and I thought she was very brave to do that. And the audience really appreciated that, by the way. And so we started singing some of the songs--"Storybook Children" was about four shows into that tour. That was the first time she sang, about the middle of October, I'd say, the first time she sang in the act. Right, Carrie?
CR: Yeah, or November.
CT: And then we came back--when did we start making the album, was it...?
CR: We came back and started maybe getting ready for it in January.
CT: And we began recording, maybe in February, right?
PM: So it was only--
CR: Only a few months.
PM: So I'm sure you agree that, by the time the second album rolled around, I mean, you guys were--it's at such a unbelievable level as a duo at that point. You can hear how much hanging out those two people did together.
CT: Yeah. Well, these were very lived-in, these songs, whereas the first ones, we lived in a few of them. You know, we had three or four that we were performing by the end of the tour. But a lot of them came together when we got back. And so they weren't really played out as much as The Trouble with Humans was.
But I must say, it was Carrie's first time in the recording studio. And whether it was her first time or her ninth time, I thought the stuff she did on Let's Leave This Town, even though it's maybe looser and we're slightly more vibing together on The Trouble with Humans, I still think it was like, you know, just lovely stuff that she did on that first album. Even though the performances might have been a little bit more innocent, to me, as a lover of duets, it's just wonderful to go back to that and listen to that, and how terrific she did for a girl who never sang, and who raised me to another level, you know?
PM: Yeah, that's scary, that it was your first time in the studio, Carrie. I'm also a lover of duos, and I think it's a really sacred form. In fact, I'm real familiar with the ins and outs of trying to maintain a duo emotionally. What are your methods for getting along in the good or the tense moments?
PM: Because they come up.
CT: Well, can I speak?
CT: I think one of the things that's good about our partnership is we talk things out if we're having some problem, whatever it is. And I think that makes us stronger. A lot of people don't get to the bottom of their emotions that quickly. With Carrie it's not like putting up with each other. If we have a little problem, we just--whatever we have, we get out in the open. And I think we just come out--it's like the last song of the album, "We Come Up Shining." That's just exactly the way it is.
CT: So it's real. I'm way more powerful with her and with those kind of conversations than I would be without them. And I hope the same is true for you.
CR: Hold on one second. Hello?
PM: Oh, Carrie's got another call.
CT: She's got her breakfast on the way up.
CR: Sorry. This is a New York thing I'm doing here.
PM: Oh, it's a New York thing, yeah, right. Breakfast while you interview. So do you have anything to add to that, Carrie, about your secret methods of getting along in the good and tense moments?
CR: I think I feel the same as Chip does. If something's bothering us, we definitely don't keep it in. We just talk about it pretty immediately, so we're not carrying grudges. Because the road, it's hard enough as it is just with all the traveling and constantly having to do stuff. So we just get things out as we go, and it seems pretty easy.
CT: The truth is, Frank, that when you get to the bottom of some issues that you have with somebody you care a lot about, when you get to the bottom of it, the bond just gets stronger, and you just feel better about the day. It's almost like going to a psychiatrist or something.
PM: Yeah, be your own shrinks.
CT: You feel so much better. I can't ever remember us going through something where, when it was done, we didn't feel way better than we'd felt before. So it's a nice revolving door kind of thing. continue