Blake Shelton: Safe at Home

His career is hotter than ever, but what Blake Shelton really cherishes is his precious time at home in Oklahoma with family, friends and girlfriend Miranda Lambert.

In the Jan. 26 issue of Country Weekly, Blake discusses his life at home on the ranch with his family and girlfriend Miranda Lambert. It’s been a big year for the Oklahoma native, from his well-received stint on the TV talent competition Clash of the Choirs to the smash status of his summertime No. 1 hit “Home.” Now he’s back with his Top 10 album Startin’ Fires and the hit “She Wouldn’t Be Gone”—and he’s just getting warmed up. Here are a few exclusive Internet-only outtakes from our interview with Blake.

CW
What kind of reactions have you been hearing to the new album?
BS
I haven’t had a chance to talk to a lot of people about it. Maybe that’s a good thing. I don’t really know what people are thinking. Before the album came out I was hearing good things. There were some good reviews. There were some bad ones, like I always get. I almost feel like something’s wrong if I don’t get three or four reviews completely bashing my brains in. (laughs) But the response from friends and family is that they’re loving it. They love that I’m finally singing about things that they know about me, like my passion for deer hunting and planting and fishing and just being home, those type of things. I’m also still singing about a lot of the same things that I sang about before—I love to sing about regret, I guess. That always seems to be a theme with my records. I’m doing that lyrically, but vocally and musically it’s a bit of a different slant. Like “She Wouldn’t Be Gone” and “I’ll Just Hold On,” those are musically kind of a departure for me. But I felt like with “Home” being a success that it was time for me to use that open door to explore a little bit more and see what else I can do musically. I’m glad I did that. “She Wouldn’t Be Gone” is probably the biggest departure musically from anything that I’ve ever done, and it’s one of the fastest climbing singles I’ve ever had. So I think maybe people were ready for me to try something new. I’ve pushed myself a little bit further along as an artist and singer.
CW
What will be the next single?
BS
I don’t have a damn clue. (laughs) The good thing about it is that I think we’ve got about three obvious choices. It’s scary to me, because for the first time in my career I really feel like I have some real momentum going here. I’ve never had that. I’ve always been the guy that’s making a comeback every time. Right now I’m on top of that wave. I don’t know how I got here, but I don’t want to fall off, and this next single selection is probably going to be the most important decision I’ve made yet. That’s the pros and cons that I’m dealing with right now. It’s tough. You almost wish you could go into a coma and wake up three months later, after all the decision-making has happened, and see what the result was. It’s just agonizing. I’ll change my mind 50 times. I’ll change my mind the day the song goes to radio. I’ll just have a sick feeling, because I’m not that confident in my ability to pick hit singles. My record label, Warner Bros., has always been very good about letting me make whatever decision I want to make, and they get behind me 100 percent. But because of that, look at my career: “Austin” was this huge record, then my follow-up to it [“All Over Me”] was this huge failure. Then my follow-up to that was “Ol’ Red,” which was this huge song. It’s No. 1, No. 30, No. 8, No. 50, it’s this up-and-down pattern because I don’t really have a damn clue what I’m doing. (laughs) All I can do is pick my favorites. Sometimes my favorites are right in there with the masses and sometimes people are going, “What the hell was he thinking?” But I’ll tell you this, I think it’s kept people interested in me. This will sound stupid, but I think it’s made my career last as long as it has. Even though I’ve been in this for close to 10 years, I think a lot of people still think of me as one of the new guys because I’ve not been one of those over-the-top big breakout superstars. I’ve always been on the radar, and every once in a while I’ll have a big hit. It’s kept me in the game. I wouldn’t trade any of that, because I’ve learned a lot. And I love being the underdog, I really do.
CW
You recently performed for the first time at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. What was that like?
BS
It’s the ultimate. You’re the rhinestone cowboy when you do that. My favorite part is when they let all the kids down on the dirt and they run up to the stage. When I used to picture being a country singer one day, that’s one of the visions I had: being the guy up there that you’re running across there and jumping the gate to stand in front of.
CW
When you perform at events like that, do you get a chance to enjoy the actual rodeo?
BS
If there’s a place to go and hide and watch, I normally will. I’m just like everybody, I’ve got to see the bull riders. That’s pretty awesome. And these days, Miranda has gotten into barrel racing as something that she wants to do. So now I find myself really getting into that too, and having a bit of an understanding of how hard that is.
CW
She actually wants to compete?
BS
Yeah, yeah. I don’t know to what level, but she wants to do it.
CW
Have you thought about doing that?
BS
Hell no! (laughs) I love to ride. One of my favorite things to do is grab a few beers and take off on a horse cross-country, but I don’t like to go fast. I like to go at the same pace as if I was walking.
CW
You moved from Nashville back to Oklahoma a few years ago. Has that made it more difficult to get business done?
BS
You would think so. But even when I lived in Nashville, once I got started touring I was gone all the time anyway. When I did come into town there would be a certain schedule of things I would needed to do and get done, and I still do that now. I get on the bus and about once a month I’ll have three or four days worth of crap I have to do in Nashville and I’ll do it. I think I get a lot more done by not living there than I did when I lived there, because when I lived there I was constantly hiding from the record company. I wouldn’t ever want them to know I was in town, because sure enough they’d have all this stuff for me to do. Now it’s, “Oh, I can’t—I live in Oklahoma! Too bad!” Now I get more done because I’m not hiding. I know I’ll have to go and spend a week there and I get it done and everybody’s happy.
CW
And now Miranda owns a home just a few miles away from yours. How do the locals treat you?
BS
I still don’t think they really know what to think about Miranda and I. First I hit town and I think it was more of a rumor that I was living there. Next thing you know, Miranda Lambert comes rolling in and sets up camp. We’re talking about a town that probably has 2,500 people. We don’t even have a Wal-Mart—we have a Dollar General and a Family Dollar. If they don’t have it, you’re out of luck. Then a year or two goes by and we’re a part of the community now. Miranda fronted some money and she’s getting a dog pound put into the community. I’ve been doing my Raindance benefit [concerts]. We’re trying to be a part of this community and fit in as easily as we can. For the most part, people are happy that we’re there. But I don’t think they really understand why we’re there. I think in their minds it’s like, “How come they don’t live in L.A. or Nashville?” We’re right where we want to be.
CW
How did coming from Oklahoma shape your personality?
BS
If you know people from Oklahoma, the first thing you get from them is a pretty laid-back sense of humor. I see it in Carrie Underwood. I love to watch her in interviews. A lot of people think of her as this shy, very perfect all-American girl, and I hear her being a smartass all the time in her interviews. I love it, because I know her personality. I know where she comes from and what she’s thinking a lot of the time. I hear it in Garth Brooks. Vince Gill is one of the funniest people ever. Everybody from Oklahoma has that sense of humor. I think that’s a big part of my personality, that self-deprecating thing. I don’t take myself very seriously, probably not seriously enough. One day I went to Nashville to do something on CMT. This interview ran and I got this call from Bill Bennett, who’s the president of Warner Bros. Records. He says, “I sure do think you’re funny, but I just wish you had more confidence in yourself. You run yourself down so much that I’m afraid people are going to start believing it.” I think he was genuinely concerned that I had confidence issues. That was the first time it hit me. I thought, “Man, I guess a lot of people just don’t get me at all.”
CW
What are your plans for 2009?
BS
I’m probably going to be doing a lot more television this year. That’s a hard hurdle to get over. That’s been my struggle all along. I think that’s one of the reasons that I haven’t ever really broken through and been one of the big-name artists, because I haven’t had those television opportunities until now. That whole Clash of the Choirs thing I did, as goofy as that was, really raised my profile. Television hasn’t been a problem for me ever since. I’d love to explore that part of my career a little bit more—not just get on TV and sing, but do something different. But I don’t know. Who knows what’s in 2009? All I can tell you is that I’ll probably be in a town near everybody before the year is over doing what I do best, and that’s country music.

For more on Blake Shelton, check out the Jan. 26 issue of Country Weekly.

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