Interview: Shelby Lynne speaks her f-ing mind

"I'm a strong f*cking b*tch," says Shelby Lynne. And that's not all she wants to clarify.

Although raised in Alabama and possessing an admitted southern accent, she says she's not country. For sure, the genre has become increasingly vague, with the modern radio sound frequently glossier and less intense than Lynne, a Grammy winner who strives to make art with a deep emotional experience.

"I want to break down and cry," she says, "when someone sings to me through the speakers."

Her latest album, Revelation Road– which she wrote, performed, and produced herself– is her most personal yet. There are several songs about her troubled childhood, for example, including the murder/suicide that took her parents. Listening to all this can be rough, but for Lynne that's the point.

The Hook: Did this album take a lot of planning?
Shelby Lynne: I don't make plans. You can try to make plans, but you're really just at the mercy of what the universe is going to do.

The Hook: What did you learn along the way?
Shelby Lynne: I've been making records so long, most of the time dealing with several different personalities. This was different in that it was just me, and it was relaxing really.

The Hook: This is a change from the early years when you were more just a singer.
Shelby Lynne: [When] I was just 18, a child, my goal was just to be a famous country star. I never gave a sh*t about writing. I just wanted to sing and perform and be famous. After years in Nashville, I just decided that out of the songs I was cutting, I wasn't getting my point across. I wanted to make art.

The Hook: This one doesn't sound like a Nashville record.
Shelby Lynne: If I could only eliminate the country stigma from my name. I am a country person. I was raised in Alabama, I have a country accent. I love and appreciate country music, but I make music that moves me and I don't give a sh*t what anybody calls it.

The Hook: How would you define country today?
Shelby Lynne: People think country is what they play on the radio. I want to write songs that in 40 years I can say, "I'm f*cking proud of that."

The Hook: Were there emotional places you couldn't go on this record?
Shelby Lynne: No. It doesn't bother me to be bare and emotional and naked. My a** is out there to make you feel something. It's not a f*cking talent show.

Shelby Lynne performs at the Southern on Thursday 11/10. $25-$30, 8pm.


Classy Lady!

What a waste of breath.

She so hip. she know the f word! I bet she a B!!

What a shame, motivated, talented(I think) and independent. To bad there's no self respect.

Before I could comment here, the caution reads,

"Language stronger than "darn," insults, ethnically or racially disparaging language, and comparisons to Hitler usually result in speedy comment deletion and may get you blocked from further commenting"

Yet you brought me the "f" word numerous times in the article. I am sorry this artist was damaged by the murder suicide of her family. I will never listen to her work because her writing is unlikely to be interesting or broad, because she can't summon more than swear words for the interview, which is way easier than touching raw emotion in song with music.

She's just great, juuuust great. Blah, blah, blah

@JKay Sorry to bring you this shocker, but the rules for anonymous commenters are stricter than those for our interview subjects who can cuss like a sailor in our pages, though we do try to toss in an asterisk here and there to soften the blow for tender readers. In fact, it looks like I missed my asterisk duty here in a couple of places, so I've gone back with the asterisk sprinkler. Thanks for commenting and alerting me to a potential inconsistency. I guess it is an inconsistency, but it's one I can live with.--hawes spencer, the hook editor

hawes October 29th, 2011 | 7:32am

Darn tooting, I agree hawes! Nice work!


Of COURSE the rules for the anonymous are stricter. Please give the readership points for intelligence over 110 IQ points. What you did by allowing such an abundance of words you could be prosecuted for using in public in much of the South, is portrayed this woman as a foul mouthed sub-intelligent creature who lacks depth sufficient to discuss her work. A public relations expert might say you portrayed her negatively. The phrase, "hatchet job" comes to mind. You may not be told this often, but how something is edited impacts the impressions of the general public substantially.
Hawes, this is less about "soft hearts" and touchiness toward hard language, and more about your being party to the destruction and degradation of the English language, which used to be diverse, fascinating, and capable of painting such a picture of new music that people flocked to hear the work of new artists.

Did Shelby complain, or did I misunderstand your use of the language JK?

They are quoted and the asterisk sprinkler seems fine to my eye. I may get a few tickets, so what is your point?

She don't make no f-ing plans, she didn't learn an f-ing thing, she didn't make no f-ing change, it ain't no f-ing Nashville sound, she don't have anf-ing clue.

Yup, I'm going to her f-ing gigs and buying her f-ing sheet.

Wonder if she can handle the f-ing truth................she F-ING SUCKS!

I remember when I grew up and live outside Mobile, Alabama in a little town called Bay Minette a locally owned radio station always followed her and I admire her not being the typical cookie cutter artist by sticking to one genre of music instead she wishes to make art using her voice that moves people. She's one of those few people that makes music that kinda makes music be fuel for the soul. As for her language? She's blunt and tough, it comes with her experience growing up and trying to get by where down there, alot of times honesty is the best policy.

What's all the fuss here? Is it really about a few "bad" words? I hear this kind of language all the time from musical artists, athletes, and even our former Vice President, who told a fellow congressman to "go f*ck yourself" and on the floor of the senate no less!

Now does that make it right or wrong? I don't know.

What I do know is that Shelby Lynne is a GRAMMY award winning artist with a long and noteworthy career who is navigating her own path in a very difficult industry and instead of focusing on fame and fortune, she is focused on making music that moves people on an emotional level.

It's a shame that some people will decide not to listen to her music because she used some bad language in an interview. As someone that has listened to her music, I can tell you, her writing is not only interesting and broad, but it absolutely touches raw emotion.

I'm excited that such an amazing artist is playing a small intimate venue in our little town. It is definitely going to be a great show!

Who the f*** is Shelby Lynne? Sounds like a cheap, nasty b****. And covering up her apparent lack of talent.

Nevermind JKay. I'm guessing he/she goes throughout their day looking for reasons to be offended. Elevating their sanctimonious a*$ along the way.
As for Shelby... She's an amazing artist. Her work is enough for me. I don't care about her vernacular in interviews.

I think no one misses Chet Atkins more than Shelby.........

I've been following her since early 90's. She has more talent than most dare dream for. I can't quit listening to her new album - who can write the song, write the music, play every single instrument, sing both the melody and the harmony, record it on tape, and then put them all together in perfect unison? I dare say not many. You go Shelby.

I was at her Friday night Chicago concert and I saw a wonderful strong southern Lady I don't know about your interview but the music was awesome and the lady on stage blew me away with her musical honesty and her love for the audience! Your interview doesn't reflect how gracious she was with her audience.

@JKay re degradation of language to quote the woman's actual lyrics...;D
"Which one clatters most
Screaming turns to salt and dust
Volume is not heard
Bible beaters rest your fists
Haters rest your ire
You're both too young to know you're mute
Unconscious to the choir
But I can't hold that against you man
You're on Revelation Road
Grab your little passbooks
A ticket gets you in
One Hail Mary does the trick forgive of all your sins
And when the show is over
You're where you started from
Collecting all the barbs you threw piled up to be disposed
Judgment comes and never tires
Forgotten is the code
Doing unto others is a farce, a laugh, a joke
Remember when the black veil falls
We all stand alone
Barefeet on the gravel man
We're on Revelation Road"

Most people commenting that she has no talent are pretty uninformed and or just plain stupid. She is the real deal. I was one of the fortunate souls who saw her play the new stuff in public for the first time from Revelation Road at the Yost theatre. This was before the official tour started and the girl was up there with just her guitars and a mic and she killed us all with the power of her skills. Her new album is 100% her as Treewan pointed out. She was songwriter, guitarist, drummer, singer, producer, engineer and she also released it on her own record label.. Now that's full Indie and just slightly gutsy and talent requiring don't you think? She probable was slightly annoyed by the interviewer and it came out a little rough..but that is who she is..a little rough, but I have met her and she is gracious as the day is long.

JKay: Jesus, have a shot of something, dude--you are tighter than a drum skin. As for -maxbrando: Are you getting paid to be so obtusely moronic?

Call me biased but the use of "southern" and "lady" used in the same sentence is an oxymoron. And yes I am a yankee who has suffered from the reasons why this is true. Of course the same could be said about a Southern Gentleman, heaven forbid someone use that to describe me.

I can handle THE TRUTH!

Wonder what would happen if Shelby used language that could be used in front of a 2nd grade classroom.

Would her "talent" change? Would her recognition change?

Would she change?

,dont worry babe, they all know who i am. and what can happen if they cross. love and prayer will be our cover, with you all the time, i will be your lover. i will be your lover dont you cry just yet, its the way you make them sweat, take in a deep breath and let love flow, your words are so amazing, even one could be a take it you see, its a gift from you to me, what better way to land when you are holding out your hand, i can see but not in the dark, and its so dark.........but i can hear you, and feel you, id like to see you again......let me know if we can.

her abilities are a gift from someone who loves her. now she is able to see who it was. and she will have a wonderous life enjoying her husband. because he is ready for her.

Dis real country mane!

So based on her use of the f word, Shelby Lynne is assumed to have no talent?
So happens Joan Baez has also used the f word in some of her interviews(see her bio DVD How Sweet the Sound, and Martin Scorsese's No Direction Home, where she discusses Bob Dylan). Would anyone try to tell us Joan Baez has no talent???
Is there a little sexist double standard here? Would someone make the same statement about Steve Earle(ever listen to his live concert CDs)? But when a Shelby Lynne or an Avril Lavigne uses "naughty" words, they get called names !

"So based on her use of the f word, Shelby Lynne is assumed to have no talent?"

I like to refer to people who make these assumptions as pretentious pr**ks.
They mostly like to refer to themselves as worldly and edumacated.

discoduck- who knows, but maybe she has no f-ing thing is for sure, she is not a good f-ing role model- then again, perhaps she doesn't want to be.

Here is Shelby channeling Britney Spear back in 2001:

"Angry Parakeet"- thanks for the link. Based on what I read, she had a great opportunity but seemingly blew it. Perhaps her attitude contributes to her attitude...............

Calm down everyone. This was some superficial interview of some singer who has been guided by her handlers to present a certain package to help sell records. There was not one thing in her statements that I have not heard a zillion times from other singers..."I don't want to be categorized....I want my music to have relevance in thirty years...I want to be an artist not a performer...yawn yawn yawn." have it backwards: the use of such language is itself pretentious. I would never allege she is talentless, just pre-packaged. The language means nothing...gee, when did NWA have their first album? Didn't GG Allin die like 17 years ago? F-bombs today mean that the speaker (and writer) is just trying to shock. In the words of an old journalism professor of mine who chastised the use of the word "very," "it is meaningless and trite." And the inserting of f*** by The Hook editors is pretentious. It's the whole "yo man, rock 'n roll" thing, thinking they are somehow being cool. Hawes's cute little response was dripping with condescension and pretense; quite typical of the attitude in this city. Anyone who begins a sentence with "It may come as a shock to you..." is basically saying: "Hayseed, I am smarter than you."

I don't know which rag is worse with the Chville "world class" attitude: The Hook or Cville Weekly. Go to any big city (I came from Philly) and you will this hackneyed news style. Big city mags like "Philadelphia Magazine" have been doing this style (pseudo cool graphics, use of language, words like "suck" on the front cover) for years. It's designed to get that 18-34 demo to think they are reading a cutting edge publication when in fact, they are reading amateur hour, a high school publication in a larger format. It is also designed to get that 34-50 demo to think "wow, this is cool and I feel cool reading this." No different that 20 year-old rich little UVa preppy boys calling each other "dude," or UVa's homogenous cute little blonde-bimbos-in-training calling eachother "girlfriend" in a weak, ineffective Starr Jones inflection.

Shelby and papers like The Hook are natual fits: fakes. They remind me of when punk rock started in England in the mid-1970s. Within months, department stores had clothes on the shelves with holes in them and cleaned up revolutionary statements written on them....watered down punk stuff that pretentious people like those we see "downtown" could swallow without choking. You know, Mom and Dad would feel safe buying the leather jacket for little Hawes's birthday and say: "Oh, look, little Hawes likes to dress like Sid Vicious. Isn't he so creative?" Or perhaps he was more into the red Wacko Jacko jackets with the zippers and screens on the shoulders.

Finally, for all of you who are trying to set up artists as role models, please stop this. Look in your town for role models; looking at celebrities as role models is just a vicarious way for us to say "I want to be him (her)."

Love, kisses and candlelabras,

" have it backwards: "

Without knowing the individual you could be right about the persona and marketing. Lady G sure did shock to the top.
Either way what gets my goat kicking are the people who try and tear others down while covering up their own misgivings and flaws. I won't call out certain social groups, affiliations, or political movements that use this tactic as not to hijaak the thread.

All you have to do is read the planted news articles to spot the pr***s.

"Hayseed" Duck.

Sorry Liberalace, but Shelby Lynne is not a fake - she's as real as they come.

And FWIW, before claiming that Hawes' response was "dripping with condescension and pretense," you should have read your own. It strikes me as having a similar tone.

If anyone in this thread wants to stop hiding behind an anonymous login and use their real name and email address, I'd be glad to arrange for a few folks to attend the show where they can see and hear Shelby for themselves and make up their own mind as to her artistic merit.

you can put me and alex on the guest list and we'll settle this once and for f**ing all.

@ Liberalace "The language means nothing.... F-bombs today mean that the speaker (and writer) is just trying to shock."

So language goes from having no meaning to being able to have a particular meaning in the course of two sentences? Considering that you started with "the use of such language is itself pretentious," which sort of presupposes that it was intended to have some meaning, it seems you've managed to turn a complete 360 in about 50 words.

It may come as a shock to you Liberalace, but the standard approach to making an argument calls for you to pick a position and stick to it at least until the end of its statement. Despite that little lapse, I'm picking you as my local role model for your GG Allin name drop.

How dare you bring me to the Argument Clinic! "The language means nothing" is in reference to everyone getting upset 'cos some woman is dropping F-bombs. I really take the Carlinesque approach to language, knowing it can be crafted including what our society calls obscene, but surely not seeing any craft in this interview. Frankly, it was probably The Hook...I saw an interview with her in the Advocate (the magazine for, you know, those people), and it contained fewer vulgarities than this short interview. The interview was short and sparse, really just an advert to sell tickets.

The real deal? Perhaps, she has certainly had enough fodder in her life to write some deep stuff.

Andy, re: the pretense, I live pretty close to the Kluge Estate, read The Hook and Cville Weekly, and spend some time around UVa, so when in Rome. PS: You're not the Andy from the Frank Zappa "One Size Fits All" LP from '74, are you?


Really enjoyed your assessment. I don't know why Hawes Spencer would ever imply intellectual superiority. I suppose that Halsey Minor has not bought "The Hook" just yet.

I liked Shelby when she first appeared on TV but her career never reached the level of her talent was worthy of . I expected her to be a top star . The 2001 Grammy for best new female artist was awarded more than ten years after i began following her . She was reported to have personal addictions that was hurting her career . Was reported to have a poor attitude for moving forward etc . I expect Hawes has hit it about right in his article . Shelby has great talent ,is mostly a sweetheart with a hard edge which has often made her seem to not give a f--k . She has been entertaining groups since she was a little kid .A real trooper . Anyone unlucky enough not to get to experience her live performance can always sample her brand on u tube .

Liberalace, your Zappa reference has me looking for another local role model already. You not only listen to THAT, but also tacitly admit having paid attention to the lyrics and you dare to call someone else pretentious?

You haven't dropped his name yet in your wild spree, but from the clues you've salted about I'm sure you're a fan of John Giorno. Perhaps you will take him up on his invitation?

An extra character somehow made its way into that last link. Mr. Giorno is really waiting for you here.

All you people are ridiculous.

Somebody cussed. woooo. Get over it. Seriously.

Only in America.

Not sure why you'd think I'd be a fan of Giorno. Although Zappa did have some admiration for the art of Burroughs (with whom Giorno worked on stuff), Zappa's political leanings were more along the lines of Carlin's libertarianism: individual rights over government rule, people are basically pretty good until they get in a group (e.g., university organizations, sports teams, ideological groups). Both thought that Americans were becoming a nation of lazy sheeple (no coincidence of the parallels between "The Seven Dirty Words" and the PMRC). Carlin was more anti-business than Zappa, though.

I smile at some of the silliness of Zappa's lyrics, but a reading of his works and statements shows that he only added lyrics to get people to listen to the music. He conceded that America largely would not listen to instrumental music, especially dissonant, odd metre stuff. However, most of his works we instrumental in nature.

Listen to a track on that album (One Size Fits All) that I mentioned before called "Sofa No. 1." A lot of his instrumentals are quite beautiful.

Sure beats yawning to trite jam bands like DMB or that dopey Phish group.

My poetry tastes run more parallel to Martin Newell than Giorno; however, Del Giorno does make pretty decent frozen za.

Boooo!- Yuck Fou...............

Zappa rules! I still love to watch his congressional testimony at the PMRC hearings:
"Well, come on over to the house. I will show them to you."

I like to listen to Zappa while perusing my first edition copy of Burroughs' Shotgun paintings; works on wood and paper.

Whoops, am I being pretentious? ;-P

The Shelby Lynne show is going to be amazing!

The most annoying thing about the reaction to this article is that if this was a male, no one would think much of it. I attend a lot of concerts and read music news pretty much every day, and time and time again, i see that if males use the "f word" or other similar language from stage or in interviews no one blinks, but let a female do it and she is called a "potty mouth" or criticized for not having a better vocabulary. Unless you judge every musician, author, actor, and artist equally by every interview he or she gives, then keep your pie hole closed when a woman uses some strong language and maybe do some self-examination on why it bothers you so much.

Karen people aren't bothered so much when they hear foul mouthed women cussing and cursing ,it is just that they still hold out hope that most women will act like they are supposed to . That is refreashing instead of futile resignation to the long slippery slide into the gutter .

Karen- not true.............many turn Chris Rock for just that reason.

I am curious as to what her acceptance would be if she changed interviewing technique

I love her modesty. BTW Andy @ The Southern, to quote PE, "Who give's a F&@# about a GD GRAMMY!"

"Who give's a F&@# about a GD GRAMMY!" you say ? Don't be an a** , a Grammy is big f*king sh*t ask any strong f*cking b*tch like Shelby .

In the words of Dr. Hannibal Lecter: "Closer, Karen. Come closer." No, I will not gnaw on your larynx, just try to muzzle you a tad.

Actually, the reaction of me (and many other people I know) would be: "Whoa, man, he' s so cool. Listen to his f-bombs!" if a man were to utter all those obscenities. My gripe is with:
a. The artist--I still think the language is staged.
b. The Hook--for taking such a superficial, 7- or 8-question interview with dumb questions to begin with, placing them in their rag under the guise of an interview when really it is just an ad to sell tix, and then thinking it was so cool to headline the article in the manner they did.
E.g.: "Did this album take a lot of planning?" Uh, no, man, I wrote the songs in a half day, picked the track sequence in three minutes, and never even thought about cover art. But I do own my own record label.

And Karen, how could you assume that, in a World Class City like Charlottesville, we men would react chauvinistically to a pretty little blonde lesbian cussing versus, say, James Hetfield? Gosh, I even take part in Men Who Cook every year!

P.S.: I don't like it when my wife has a tan; it means she's not in the kitchen.

lol World Class City like Charlottesville are you on drugs the town is a little stinkhole headed by completely incompetent wanna be dictators and filled with cretins that will never amount to anything and would probably be about 5000 beggars if not for UVA.

Gee Dick, do you have to be so blunt? But its true, A cow town living in the shadow of a slave owner who died a pauper. Oh the ironies. But really I don't see the point to all this hub bub, the girl has no self respect and thats it. I don't care how one justifies the use of vulgar language, its their reality, but in my circles, vulgarity amounts to crass behavior which stems from some sort of personal short coming. I hope she gets help.