Kacey Musgraves Explains How Tragedy Is Informing Her New Music
Kacey Musgraves is chipping away at her next album. Due later this year, it will be the follow-up to 2019's Grammy Awards Album of the Year, Golden Hour, and the 32-year-old singer-songwriter has revealed that the theme of "tragedy" is inspiring the upcoming effort.
That's just one of the details doled out in recent a Rolling Stone cover story on the entertainer, which relays that Musgraves admits to "sitting with her sadness" of late, no doubt due in part to the finalization of her divorce from fellow musician Ruston Kelly. The "Rainbow" singer sums up how recent events have put tragedy on her mind — not just the circumstances of her own life, but everything happening outside of it as well.
"This last chapter of my life and this whole last year and chapter for our country — at its most simple form, it's a tragedy," Musgraves says. "And then I started looking into why portraying a tragedy is actually therapeutic and why it is a form of art that has lasted for centuries. It's because you set the scene, the audience rises to the climax of the problem with you, and then there's resolve. There's a feeling of resolution at the end. I was inspired by that."
The concept's gotten further fuel from the art the singer's been consuming: Bach's 18th-century lament "Komm, Süßer Tod, Komm Selge Ruh" and Baz Luhrmann's 1996 version of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, to be specific. Additionally, thinking of her eventual fifth album as a three-act Greek tragedy has helped Musgraves whittle down the 39 new songs she's written so far.
Accompanying Musgraves to the studio where she's currently working with the producers behind Golden Hour, Ian Fitchuk and Daniel Tashian, Rolling Stone gets a looking at her writing yet another new tune meant to comprise the album's "crescendo of the climax," as Musgraves puts it.
"It's crazy because you have to just wait on it," she observes of the process. "You can't ask for it."
Elsewhere in the interview, Musgraves discusses doing a guided trip on magic mushrooms — the singer ingested the psilocybin-infused fungi to a specialized, seven-hour-plus playlist designed by Johns Hopkins researchers — and digs deeper into her newfound romantic freedom.
"Part of me questions marriage as a whole, in general," Musgraves remarks. "I mean, I was open to it when it came into my life. I embraced it. I just have to tell myself I was brave to follow through on those feelings. … [But] I think I live best by myself. I think it's okay to realize that."
Emboldened by being single and embracing the tragic, the musician is poised to make an album that might be even more representative of her true self than Golden Hour. To that end, the more soul searching she does, the better she gets at reconsidering the past and focusing her present.
"I've been doing a lot of reflecting on growing up as a woman in the South and being a performer from a young age," Musgraves adds. "We were told to please, to make this person happy. That has to imprint on your code. It kind of erodes boundaries. So I'm trying to examine things that may not be useful anymore and maybe unlearn some things."
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