After a three year absence from the country music scene, a revived Patty Loveless has arrived with a brand new album featuring her versions of country classics called Sleepless Nights. An appropriate title, considering Loveless has endured the death of her mother, mother-in-law and the illness of her brother during that stretch of inactivity.
But these hard times have moved Loveless to give some of the most heart-rending performances of her career, and in a phone interview from her home in Cartersville, Georgia, she tells Country Universe about her doubts of returning to the music business, her dreams for the next phase of her career and her desire to spread the gospel of traditional country music.
Since 2005’s Dreaming My Dreams, you’ve kept a rather low profile except for a few guest appearances. Give us a glimpse of your life in the last three years and why this was the right time for an album of classics.
I was mostly trying to get used to being a resident of Georgia. Since I first came to Nashville when I was 14, we’d drive back and forth to Nashville all the time for a few years. And of course, when I was 19, I moved to North Carolina. And then I came back to do a country record, that was in ’85. And now it’s been over twenty years. So I’ve been driving a lot. And I like to drive. I do. But now I’m settled in Georgia, and I was just getting used to being in Georgia and living there. Plus, with everything with my family, I believed it was time for a break. It was necessary to take a sabbatical, but I’m happy to be back in front of the fans, and I hope this album really influences people.
Of course, during the time I was also singing on other artist’s records. I did the Bob Seger record, and we sang “The Answer’s in the Question.” I really enjoyed it. And of course, I believe it was last December we cut the George Strait one, “House of Cash,” and I sang on the new Kathy Mattea album…
And with Vince Gill on These Days.
Yes. I loved going in the studio with him.
This new album, Sleepless Nights, is drinking and cheating, loss and loneliness—is part of you simply drawn to these deep songs? And how do they resonate with you differently now?
I wear my feelings on my sleeve. I put a lot of pain into my songs. Music is my healing.
In the last couple years, I didn’t have the energy or the heart (to record). I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to make another record. I knew I would always somehow continue to sing in some way, but I didn’t know when. I just needed time. After everything that happened with my mother, and my mother-in-law’s passing as well, I felt like I was burned out. Of course, I was there for the last week of my mother’s life, and she was surrounded by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and of course her children.
Fortunate considering you were on the road so often. A blessing.
Yes, a real blessing. I was still trying to help, you know, women tend to be the caregivers. I had brothers who were having a hard time of it. I have two sisters as well, and for some reason we held strong. And Roger, who was really the one who encouraged and pushed me into the country music limelight, having a stroke, it was tough. I was afraid that something would go wrong due to all the stress.
Also, your career was in a holding pattern.
I felt like my heart had broken. The problems with the recall on the record didn’t help. And then of course, I parted ways with Sony Epic, so I just needed time to heal. (Editor’s note: A number of copies of Loveless’ last Epic release Dreamin’ My Dreams, released in 2005, were created with anti-theft software installed that prevented consumers from downloading the album to their personal playing devices.)
You must have been frustrated that you were trying to stay relevant in your career by allowing for this technology only for it to fail, at least in your case.
Yes, it was just one last thing that caused me to question everything. It was disappointing.