In 2008, Charlie Robison and Emily Robison, one third of country-rock group the Dixie Chicks, were filing for divorce. Like many Americans, the divorce produced a great deal of emotions, but unlike most of those making their way through the divorce courts, Robison’s marital woes contributed to his daytime output.
"I think it was during the second session in the middle of the second day of recording that we actually decided to get a divorce rather than try to keep the marriage going, so that’s about as fresh as it gets," the musician tells Sarah Rodman of the Boston Globe.
The essence of Robison’s experience with divorce became "Beautiful Day," his fourth country-rock album.
The lowest moments of the experience often gave Robison his best stuff, but the musician often found that the emotions involved came and went so quickly that he couldn’t stay with them.
"I just sat down one night and thought, 'I’m going to try to write exactly what happened today, exactly how I’m feeling,' and then it was just like, man, I couldn’t keep up with myself," Robison says.
He places some of the responsibility of the divorce on the stress produced after the Dixie Chicks publicly criticized former president George W. Bush and suffered an unprecedented fan backlash.
"Beautiful Day" dwells in places common to anyone who has been through a romantic split, and Robison wrote his way out of anger, regret and general gloom. Those feelings notwithstanding, the musician wanted to keep things civil.
"Emily and I are still very close," he says. "I didn’t want my kids for the next 20 years of their life at their therapist’s office saying, 'Daddy keeps calling Mommy a bitch on his records.' That would get kind of old after a while."
Still, Robison takes a few shots. In the title track, sarcastically titled, a woman walks away from her previous life without any concerns or regrets. On another track, "She’s So Fine," a man defiantly finds his own closure after a relationship falls apart.
Despite the obvious parallels, Robison’s ex-wife gave her feedback on many tracks as they developed.
"As soon as I’d get a rough track, I would give it to her," he says. "She was like, 'I get 90% of the lyrics, but there are some that you might want to explain to me.' And I said, "Nope, you don’t want to know."
The album, Robison’s first in five years, has received positive early buzz, and the singer understands that the material plays to a wide audience.
"I just want people to listen to it and think, 'Man, have I been there.'"
His divorce may propel him into a new level of fame, but Robison has no plans to parlay his success with "Beautiful Day" into future, similar albums. He has done what he could with a tough situation, but Robison is the first to admit that one divorce album is more than enough for a lifetime.
Source: Boston Globe