I always wanted to know, and I always used to daydream, about what it would be like to stand on a really big stage and sing songs for a lot of people, songs that I had written... Daydreaming was kind of my No. 1 thing when I was little, because I didn't have much of a social life going on.
A lot of people ask me, 'How did you have the courage to walk up to record labels when you were 12 or 13 and jump right into the music industry?' It's because I knew I could never feel the kind of rejection that I felt in middle school. Because in the music industry, if they're gonna say no to you, at least they're gonna be polite about it.
Living alone, you can do so many fantastic things I've learned. You can like, walk around and have so many conversations with yourself and sing your thoughts. I think I'm the only one that does that...
I heard that when Christina Aguilera went back to her prom, people, like, booed her. I can't imagine going through that. If you know that's going to happen, why put yourself in that situation? I'd rather play for 20,000 screaming people, you know?
My fans don't feel like I hold anything back from them. They know whatever I'm going through now, they'll hear about it on a record someday. They'll hear the real story. There's a little bit of lag time. It's not as instant as going on a gossip blog. But it's much more accurate.
When I was a teenager, my biggest lessons came from Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, George Strait, Rascal Flatts and Brad Paisley. I learned so much from opening up for those artists, and it also taught me how to treat your opening acts and make them feel like they're part of a family, not just a tour.
Say it to them. Or say it to yourself in the mirror. Say it in a letter you'll never send or in a book millions might read someday. I think you deserve to look back on your life without a chorus of resounding voices saying 'I could've, but it's too late now.
I leave the genre labeling to other people. I really do. If I were to think too hard about it, that would stifle you creatively. If you think too hard about who other people want you to be as an artist, it stops you from being who you want to be as an artist.
Sometimes you see these people who are just so—God—so affected by all of it, where ambition has taken precedence over happiness. But when I meet people who really embody this serenity of knowing that they have had an amazing life—James Taylor, Kris Kristofferson, and Ethel Kennedy... They just seem to be effervescent.
You have people come into your life shockingly and surprisingly. You have losses that you never thought you'd experience. You have rejection and you have learn how to deal with that and how to get up the next day and go on with it.
Most of my songs have names of people I've met or are dear to me. There are people who have privacy issues and about people knowing about their private life. But for me, I like to include few special names and few details about them to make the song very special to me.