Kacey Musgraves Returns With 'Star-Crossed' "We're all taught that the success of a relationship has to somehow correlate with the length of it ... I just don't think that that's fully accurate." The singer-songwriter's new album is out today.

Kacey Musgraves: 'Star-Crossed' And Thriving

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Kacey Musgraves wrote her last album when she was falling in love. It was called "Golden Hour," and she won Grammys for it - album of the year and best country album. When that love started to fade, though, she wrote another album.


KACEY MUSGRAVES: This record is inspired largely by major life changes. It's following me chronologically over the last, probably, 2 1/2, three years - you know, since "Golden Hour" came out. It's kind of picking up where I left off there.


MUSGRAVES: (Singing) Let me set the scene, two lovers ripped right at the seams.

KING: Kacey Musgraves talked to us from her home. She was out on her porch with cicadas singing their own songs. Her new record, out today, is called "Star-Crossed." It follows and documents and interprets her three-year marriage to the singer-songwriter Ruston Kelly. She told me she feels grateful, even when she's thinking about something as painful as their divorce.

MUSGRAVES: Something not lasting maybe as long as you had hoped doesn't take away from how beautiful and special it was for you and how much it maybe was right at the time. You can easily say it is a post-divorce album, which, yes, it is, factually on paper. But this album is full of a lot of love and gratitude for that person, for my life and my ability to explore all the emotions as a songwriter.


MUSGRAVES: (Singing) What have we done? Did we fly too high, just to get burned by the sun? No one's to blame.

KING: There's not a lot of anger on this album. There just really isn't.

MUSGRAVES: You know, I've been doing a lot of reading about, like, the stages of acceptance, the stages of grief and - you know, and healing. And I've found out a lot about the fact that healing is not linear, you know? I mean, I felt like a rubber bouncy ball, like, bouncing from emotion to emotion. I don't think that any one emotion or song can really speak for how I feel. That's why I felt like this album had to be 15 songs. It does kind of unfold in three acts. That's kind of the best that you can do is - in trying to convey how you feel over such a complicated matter.


MUSGRAVES: (Singing) I just want to be a good wife.

KING: I listened to "Good Wife" again and again and again. That song felt very real to me. I imagine it will feel very real to a lot of women.


MUSGRAVES: (Singing) Wake him up nice and slow. Bring him coffee in bed. Listen to his problems. Tell him that I understand.

The song actually is really just kind of a personal prayer to myself and kind of, you know, to the universe to God, to goddess, whoever, saying please help me come through and be the kind of person that I need to be for this other human that I've committed my life to, you know?


MUSGRAVES: (Singing) God help me be a good wife 'cause he needs me. Even when he's not right...

There is a little bit of a wink. There is a little bit of humor in that song, but it's also saying that I am humbling myself to ask for help because I might not have all the tools that I need to be who I need to be for this person.

KING: What did marriage teach you?

MUSGRAVES: That's a good question. I mean, I come from a long line of long marriages. My grandparents met in second and third grade, and they're still together. And they're in their 80s, and they're happy. They're genuinely happy. I know. They're so cute (laughter) - Darrell Gene and Barbara Dean. They're, like, a classic American love story. I don't know. I mean, I just - I don't think that marriage is for everyone. But I think that it's beautiful because it keeps you accountable in all seasons to someone that you love. But it's also unrealistic in my mind because we do change so much over the years.


MUSGRAVES: (Singing) When we're on fire, it's something to see. No one can question the chemistry. Even in nature, timing is everything. I'm your cherry blossom, baby. Don't let me blow away. I hope you haven't forgotten Tokyo wasn't built in a day.

As long as you have the room to kind of expand as you do over time and keep grace for each other - I think that that's, like, a really important ingredient is, like, having the grace to allow someone to kind of expand and contract and not take it personally, you know?


MUSGRAVES: (Vocalizing).

KING: I want to ask you about the song "Hookup Scene."


MUSGRAVES: (Singing) If you've got someone to love and you've almost given up, hold them tight despite the way they make you sad because I wish I would have known we didn't have it so bad.

KING: What was going through your mind as you wrote that one?

MUSGRAVES: One thing that we're not really told when we're growing up is that making the right decision sometimes just doesn't feel right. And that's a hard one to grapple with. It can make you want to slide backwards out of fear that you're making the wrong decision. You know, there's always a little bit of trepidation when you're making a huge life change, especially when it involves your heart and someone else's. That song was written in the throes of feeling kind of like I was bouncing from emotion to emotion, from validation and confidence back to fear and, you know, being unsure. It's just perspective that we're all human. So really look at what you have before you toss it out or before you move on because it may be a totally 'nother issue on the other side.

KING: I'm sure there are people who are going to listen to this album after going through divorces or breakups themselves. What do you want this music to say to them?

MUSGRAVES: I don't know. I think in going through the last chapter and even, like, through pandemic life, you know, I just feel a little bit more connected to humanity through my pain. And, you know, I think that this record is kind of a reminder that the people that you might see on Instagram, be them celebrities or even people in your daily life, you know, we're all putting our best face forward. And, you know, I think as much as you can be like, you know, the golden hour girl, the girl in love, you can experience the complete antithesis of that. You know? And it's real. It's real life. And embracing that, the good and the bad, and knowing that it's all real and that we're all experiencing it, it's just a really beautiful reminder that we're kind of all in this together.

KING: Kacey Musgraves - her new album is called "Star-Crossed." Kacey, thank you so much for being with us. We really appreciate it.

MUSGRAVES: Thank you so much.


MUSGRAVES: (Singing) I'm not afraid to connect with something real and just...

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