lifeblood: songs: backgrounds: rodeo

2005-05-11: amy ray talks about her second solo effort, 'prom', the tennessean:

the collection of coming-of-age songs sounds as if it was lifted directly from ray's old yearbook. but ray insists the trip down memory lane wasn't planned.

"i'm always in this continuous process of writing, and things started coming out that were thematically tied together," says ray. "it's not like i consciously said i'm going to write a group of songs about this."

but ray acknowledges that high school was on her mind.

"i started writing a lot of these songs when i was falling in love with the person i'm with now. when you're starting a new relationship, a lot of the ritual is talking about the past and when you came out, and a lot of those stories are high-school stories."

ray says her high-school years in decatur, ga., were deeply transforming. it was during high school that ray fell in love with a woman for the first time and hooked up musically with indigo girls partner emily saliers. it was also during this period that ray, who spent much of her teenage years listening to country rock, began to embrace alternative artists such as the clash and patti smith.

and that influence is clear on blender, a punk-rock anthem that expresses ray's frustration with gender and racial inequality in the music business.

that hard edge infuses much of the material on prom, with the exception of the stripped-down rodeo, which sounds like a tribute to a first love.

"it's a current love that feels like the first time i've fallen in love," says ray, who wrote the song about her partner, a graduate film student at columbia university. "i've never really known this kind of love."

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