Cary Ann Hearst: Country Strong, With An Outlaw Streak Don't let the sweet Southern voice fool you — the South Carolina singer songwriter mines dark territory on her new album, which includes one song you may have heard on HBO's True Blood.
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Cary Ann Hearst: Country Strong, With An Outlaw Streak

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Cary Ann Hearst: Country Strong, With An Outlaw Streak

Cary Ann Hearst: Country Strong, With An Outlaw Streak

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Dive bars, dirt roads, gun racks, songs by Cary Ann Hearst don't shy away from much.

(Soundbite of song, "American Made Machine")

Ms. CARY ANN HEARST: (Singer) (Singing) You can't catch them, two fast women in an American made machine. Saying it's all right if you want to go with me.

GREENE: This is "American Made Machine," a song from Cary Ann Hearst's new album, "Lions & Lambs." The singer had her first taste of national exposure last year when one of her songs was used on the HBO show, "True Blood." Cary Ann calls Charleston, South Carolina home. But we've caught up with her, where else, somewhere out on the road.

Oklahoma City is that where you are today, Cary Ann?

Ms. HEARST: That's correct.

GREENE: Well, welcome to the show. Thanks for being here.

Ms. HEARST: So happy to be here today. Thank you.

GREENE: So you're raving about this tour that you're on. You're with your husband, fellow musician, Michael Trent. And is your dog with you, too -Townes?

Ms. HEARST: Yes, Townes is with us. Townes Van Zandt Robinson is in the van with us.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GREENE: And Townes Van Zandt, remind us - a famous outlaw country singer.

Ms. HEARST: Yes, one of the greatest songwriters of our time.

GREENE: And what kind of dog is Townes?

Ms. HEARST: Townes is most likely a Plott Hound, sorrowful eyed-hound dog. He's our pride and joy and our best friend, and the person or dog...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HEARST: The person that keeps us grounded when we travel.

GREENE: The person.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GREENE: Does he perk up when you're singing? I mean does he know your music?

Ms. HEARST: You know, I was concerned at one point, especially when we are in a full band, that we were maybe too loud or, you know, troublesome to his sensitive ears. But he likes to be right in between the bass drum and the loud guitar amps. So apparently those big ears just keep out the irritating frequencies and he just falls asleep right there. I think he quite likes it.

GREENE: Well, I imagine you when you're on tours like this, singing in just the seediest bars one can imagine to a rowdy crowd, you know, a hundred people drinking beer. I mean is that anywhere close to reality?

Ms. HEARST: Yeah, I think that that is pretty close to reality. Sometimes it's two people drinking beer.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GREENE: And you mentioned one show before we actually started recording this. It's the Wormy-Something, was a bar that you...

Ms. HEARST: The Wormy Dog, that's here in Oklahoma City - the Wormy Dog Saloon.

GREENE: Well, there you go. Cary Ann, how do you keep the energy going if you're just looking out from stage at two beer drinkers sitting there listening?

Ms. HEARST: Well, that's the cool thing about being in the band with Michael, is we...

GREENE: Your husband.

Ms. HEARST: Yes, my husband. Michael and I, we entertain each other. And it's good for your character. It's good to be reminded, you know. Some nights it might be a thousand people, but it might be two people Sunday. And you have to decide at the beginning if you're willing to find happiness without necessarily having a thousand people stroking your ego.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GREENE: So happiness can be viewing your husband, two people drinking beer and your sleeping dog as you're playing.

Ms. HEARST: Yeah, that's right. It has to be. It has to be happiness.

(Soundbite of song, "Hell's Bells")

GREENE: I mentioned that the HBO series "True Blood" used one of your songs, "Hell's Bells."

Ms. HEARST: (Singing) Well, hell's bells. What you trying to sell? Put it on the table 'fore they take you to jail. What you said, got a bottle to your head and you never saw it coming. Now your pretty white shirt is red...

The overall tone of the song is pretty tough and kind of gritty, and...

GREENE: It does sound tough and gritty.

Ms. HEARST: It's tough and gritty. I think that it's also a little bit subversive, because it's basically - it's been perceived as a drug addict fighting a drunk...

(Soundbite of laughter)


Ms. HEARST: see who comes out on top. So it's kind of got that edge to it.

GREENE: Who comes out on top?

Ms. HEARST: I think the drug addict comes out on top, 'cause he's meaner.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of song, "Hells Bells")

Ms. HEARST: (Singing) Well, who's that calling? Is that your little darling? Will she come running or will she go back crawling...

GREENE: It's mean. It's gritty. But somehow it's your sweet voice. I mean how do you get that to all mix together?

Ms. HEARST: Well, as sweet as I am, for the most part, I think that my grandfather left me with a mean streak that when agitated, when provoked, can kind of emerge in that way. And I think that that song kind of is the best example of that.

There's one on the record will be made called "Shovels and Rope," what Michael and I call the "Hollowpoint Blues" which kind of has the same thing. It's like Cary Ann, you okay? Why are you so angry today?

(Soundbite of laughter)

GREENE: I think I'm glad I haven't provoked view in our interview. Thank you for sparing me.

Ms. HEARST: You could never provoke me.

GREENE: Well, we thought we'd end the conversation, and actually end this hour of the program with your song "Can't Say Goodbye."

(Soundbite of song, "Can't Say Goodbye")

Ms. HEARST: (Singing) I can't say goodbye 'cause I know you're leaving. I can't say goodbye 'cause I...

GREENE: The voice of Cary Ann Hearst from her forthcoming album "Lions & Lambs."

Cary Ann, this was really fun. Thank you so much. Enjoy your travels.

Ms. HEARST: Oh, wonderful. Thank you. We will.

GREENE: And tell Townes I said hi.

Ms. HEARST: I well. Ill scratch his ear for you.

GREENE: Please do.

(Soundbite of song, "Can't Say Goodbye")

Ms. HEARST: (Singing) Can't say goodbye. Can't say goodbye...

GREENE: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Liane Hanson will be back next week. I'm David Greene.

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