Margo Price shares her rags-to-riches story that inspired her new album Singer-songwriter Margo Price opens up about the raw, real-life inspirations for her new album, Strays, which she wrote after taking psychedelic mushrooms.

Margo Price shares the struggles, joy behind new album

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LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Margo Price has a new album out today. It's called "Strays," and it's clear the alt country star has no interest in being typecast.

MARGO PRICE: I didn't want to get stuck in thinking like, is this country? Is this Americana? Is this rock 'n' roll? Is this psychedelia? You know, everybody wants to label things and put them in a box. And I just - I wanted this album to be feral and free.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BEEN TO THE MOUNTAIN")

PRICE: (Singing) I've been a number. I've been under attack. I have been to the mountain and back, all right.

FADEL: Price draws on her own life for inspiration - her struggles with alcohol, losing a newborn and, years ago, the family farm but also the joys of love and sex. Now that she's made it, I asked Price what it's like in an industry that can be unkind, especially to women.

PRICE: It's really incredible to be able to have different seasons. And I'm aging. I'm about to be 40 this year, and there's a lot of fear, I think, that this culture wants you to feel when you're a woman.

FADEL: Yeah. When they age us out.

PRICE: Yeah, exactly. You know, it's like, oh, you're not going to have worth if you're not attractive or - I've struggled with self-image my whole life. And, you know, the success and the money and the fame, those things don't really make your problems go away. Sometimes they amplify them.

FADEL: You had this epiphany on mushrooms when you were 19 that you - that had you dropping out of college, trying to make it in music. And today, you're a star, and it's come full circle. I read that this album was written after you took a bunch of mushrooms.

PRICE: That is correct.

FADEL: Can you tell me about that?

PRICE: I have had absolute revelations that I do not think that I would have came to had I not taken psilocybin - also microdosing and - to help with my anxiety and depression. And...

FADEL: Yeah.

PRICE: ...I was actually able to have a psychedelic experience that also led me to quit drinking alcohol, which is something that I had truly kind of struggled with for years. I really wanted to take away a lot of the stigma with that and just be transparent about how I've used them and how they have helped me with addiction and depression.

FADEL: We talked about the vulnerability on this album, but that's not easy to be so raw and real. And maybe when you were writing the songs, it's one thing, but now you're sharing the songs with all of us, with the world. What's that like?

PRICE: It's difficult to be vulnerable.

FADEL: Yeah.

PRICE: This culture doesn't always see that as a strong characteristic. But if you can find joy after going through something really tragic and if you can figure out how to channel that and transform it, I think that is the whole meaning of life.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LYDIA")

PRICE: (Singing) White trash, trailer trash, they said you'd always be. And you said, one day, you'll see. But lately you start to wonder if maybe they were right.

FADEL: You know, I listened to "Lydia" a lot, and I don't know if that's because I spent a lot of time in abortion clinics before Roe v. Wade was overturned and after. But it really stuck with me listening to this version of kind of what I watch people deal with. Can you talk about writing it?

PRICE: Oh, it was one of those really mystical songs that kind of came to me, honestly, after weeks of really being kind of in a manic state. I was touring a lot. I was a little afraid, and I just kind of burned out. And that song just kind of poured out of me, and none of it rhymed. There wasn't even really a melody. I've always wanted to write a song like that.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LYDIA")

PRICE: (Singing) Just make a decision, Lydia. Just make a decision. It's yours.

FADEL: I mean, those lines - just make a decision, Lydia, just make a decision, it's yours, close your eyes and make a wish, hear the whisper of God - I mean, I kind of couldn't get those out of my head thinking about everything that the last year has brought.

PRICE: Yeah. I mean, unfortunately, I wrote the soundtrack to probably what a lot of women in this country are thinking and are going through at this point.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LYDIA")

PRICE: (Singing) Close your eyes and make a wish. Hear the whisper of God. He used to talk like you. You used to see his face in the clouds. Now I see your face in my mind.

FADEL: You also talked about sheer moments of joy, of euphoria. Is there one song in this album that you would point to as that?

PRICE: I think "Light Me Up." It starts in a very sweet, loving place, and then it does escalate to basically this big orgasm. And I think, you know, as we're talking about women's rights and women's bodies and women's health, it's something that people have been really uncomfortable of is women's pleasure. And, you know, I thought of all the songs that men have written about their orgasms, that we should explore that.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIGHT ME UP")

PRICE: (Singing) Light me up. Burn me up. Boil from the inside. Deeper than the ocean, get me higher than the tide.

FADEL: I mean, you tackle so much - addiction, reproductive rights, depression, joy. It's just such a span.

PRICE: Yeah. When I wrote "Hell In The Heartland," that was very fresh after I quit drinking. And it is talking about living in the present. And it's a very dark song, but it was incredibly cathartic to write and to play.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HELL IN THE HEARTLAND")

PRICE: (Singing) Maybe I finally got too high. Now I'm coming down. My mind is like a crooked house that's burning to the ground

FADEL: It's beautiful to hear that, that you can access the pain of your past, but you don't have to live in it.

PRICE: Yeah.

FADEL: But now, is there any part of you that maybe wants to hold things back and go back to a simpler time?

PRICE: I always say misery shared as misery halved. But you also really have to take care because the internet, social media can be really brutal place. And I have to protect myself. I have to take breaks. I have to mute people that are, you know, damaging and violent. And I am trying to learn how to set boundaries and how to kind of protect me.

FADEL: Margo Price - her new album, "Strays," is out today. Margo, thank you so much for this beautiful conversation.

PRICE: Hey, thank you. I really appreciate it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RADIO")

PRICE: (Singing) People try to push me around, change my face and change my sound.

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