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Colbie Caillat’s Inspirations Behind 'Along The Way': Lost Love, Fleetwood Mac & The Magic Of Nashville
Colbie Caillat rose to fame as a folk-pop singer/songwriter in the late 2000s; ‘Along the Way’ is her first album of country music. Here, she outlines the inspirations that breathed life into her Nashville foray.
When Colbie Caillat’s decade-long relationship ended in 2020, the only sound that made sense was the high, lonesome cry of country music. Luckily, she was a resident of Nashville — and naturally surrounded by the sounds of dobro, harmonica, steel guitar, and so much more.
All three make appearances on Along the Way — the indie-popper’s debut country album, which was released Oct. 6. Going back to tunes like her highest-charting hit, 2007’s suitably effervescent "Bubbly," you can hear that rootsy DNA. Now, it’s taken full flower.
This wasn’t merely due to the incorporation of country instruments, but the close connections the California native made in her adopted hometown of Music City, U.S.A.
"These songs wouldn't be what they are if these musicians weren't able to just dive in and add all of those beautiful colors," the two-time GRAMMY winner and five-time nominee tells GRAMMY.com of tunes like "Wide Open," "Sometimes You Need a Change," and "I’ll Be Here."
Throughout, Along the Way features heavy hitters like guitarist and banjoist Adam Lester, dobroist Justin Schipper and fiddlist Jenee Fleenor. (As far as "I’ll Be Here," nine-time GRAMMY winner and 32-time nominee Sheryl Crow lends an assist.)
"It really was like a family, making this record together," Caillat adds. And it wasn’t just a family of musicians, but a host of potent inspirations, which ultimately made Along the Way come to life.
Below, Caillat digs into those influences, which range from the universal feeling of heartbreak to the regional energy of Nashville.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Putting The Pieces Together In Nashville
Well, I've been coming here for 15 years, writing and doing duets with other country artists. When I moved here seven years ago, I wasn't as, I guess, in love with country music as I am now.
I think by living here and being surrounded by the lifestyle, and really getting to appreciate the music and hear it in my everyday life, it's something that I'm so grateful for, and now it's the main genre I listen to.
I've always been a singer/songwriter, and my music has always had that acoustic, organic feel. When I wrote this album, I knew specifically who I wanted to write these songs with, and I didn't want to overwrite.
I really only wanted to write when I had something to say. I knew what producer I wanted to work with that could make this a very cohesive album, recording it all in two weeks with the same musicians, and really diving in and making it a whole piece of work.
Then sonically, I heard the dobro a few years ago and I was like, "What is that instrument?" I love that thing. I don't know how I ever knew what it was before, but just adding those elements like the steel guitar and the banjo have been parts that, I really feel like, made me happy.
Learning From Lost Love
Yeah. I was in a 10-year relationship and we ended our relationship back in 2020, and I had never been single before.
That relationship was one I loved so much and I still cherish, and I was so grateful how much I learned from our time together. It was really important for me to express that on this album.
There are breakup albums where you can be mad at the person and they wronged you and all of that, and there's a time and a place for all of those. But this album is for really just loving what you experienced and appreciating the person for what they were and what you had.
Then other songs are about me being single and on my own and learning that whole experience, and really learning to feel good by myself.
That's where my song "Wide Open," that opens the album, [comes from]. I feel like that's how I'm living now. I just feel okay with what is. I'll be happy if something works out, and if it doesn't, then I understand that now. I understand that things are temporary, and it's not as crippling.
Following Her Gut (And Stevie Nicks)
One of my biggest influences was Fleetwood Mac, and I had heard from my dad and also documentaries of hearing the band talk about how they wrote. It was very much [not] writing sessions. They weren't these scheduled things. They were writing when it came out.
I think Stevie Nicks even wrote "Dreams" at the studio when they were already recording. I feel like that's when it comes out best, is when you have this experience and this wave of emotion that is ready to come out and you're ready to say something.
I just went with my gut. I've loved scheduled writing sessions in the past, but this was something that I was like, Oh, my God, I just had this idea, or this full-on wave of realization of something that I just went through and I really want to express it, and now I'm going to call [my co-writers] and see if they want to write the song with me.
It felt really good to not force anything and just let it come out. It took me a really long time to write this album. I will say that. That's the only downfall, is that it was a slow process. But it was a natural process that I really, really needed at that time.
Allowing Herself Time To Heal
I'd say it took a year and a half to write the album, because when I ended the relationship, I didn't write for about seven months. I didn't write a single song. I had no interest in music or creating anything.
Then all of a sudden I had something I wanted to say. I was so happy — I was like, Oh, my God, I got to express what I wanted to say in the most beautiful way with these two incredible writers. That was when I was like, OK, anytime I have an idea, I'm calling them.
Then there's a few songs on the record that I wrote by myself, right here in my house in Nashville. I didn't need any help writing them. They're very personal songs, and it felt good to complete those on my own.
Finding The Perfect Producer
Jamie Kenney produced this album, and I worked with him with [my former band] Gone West. We wrote a couple songs with him and he produced those songs with us. It was exactly like the songwriting feeling.
I didn't want to just go with any producer. I really wanted it to feel comfortable, and also I wanted the producer to be very musical and very patient and dive in. I didn't want it just to be something that we recorded real quick. We spent two years working on this record, and he really dove in with me.
He is just a huge part of this process, a huge piece of it, and I really wanted it to be a family making this record together. Where in the past, I loved the producers I worked with, but it was more thrown together and I was on the road, and it was more something that you didn't get to spend as much time on. We just got to live in this record together.
Photo: Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage.com
Lea Michele, Bebe Rexha To Serve As "American Idol" Duet Partners
Luis Fonsi, Sugarland and Cam also among those slated to perform with top 24 contestants on the popular singing competition TV show
Who knew when "American Idol" left the air in 2016 after 15 seasons it would be back for our viewing pleasure so soon? Now we're just days away from the show's reboot, and we've got some new intel on what viewers can expect from the singing competition we know and love.
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On March 2 "American Idol" announced the celebrity artists who will be joining the top 24 show contestants for a special evening of duets sometime in April. These include Banners, Aloe Blacc, Bishop Briggs, Cam, Colbie Caillat, Luis Fonsi, Andy Grammer, Lea Michele, Train's Pat Monahan, Rachel Platten, Bebe Rexha, Sugarland, and Allen Stone.
Will you be watching? The season premiere will air March 11 on ABC.
T-Pain, Lil Wayne, Eminem added to 52nd GRAMMY lineup
Jeff Beck, Drake, Eminem, Jamie Foxx, Lil Wayne, and T-Pain among latest performers added
(For a complete list of 52nd GRAMMY Award winners, please click here.)
Current GRAMMY nominees Jamie Foxx and T-Pain with Slash and Doug E. Fresh; nominees Drake, Eminem, and Lil Wayne with Travis Barker; a special tribute to guitar virtuoso Les Paul featuring Jeff Beck and Imelda May; the cast of "American Idiot" appearing with Green Day; four-time GRAMMY winner Roberta Flack; five-time GRAMMY winner Elton John; and three-time GRAMMY winner Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland are the latest performers announced for the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards.
Actor Simon Baker ("The Mentalist"), comedian and TV host Stephen Colbert, rock legend Alice Cooper, nine-time GRAMMY winner Sheryl Crow, actress Kaley Cuoco ("The Big Bang Theory"), seven-time GRAMMY and three-time Latin GRAMMY winner Plácido Domingo, actor Robert Downey Jr., three-time GRAMMY winner Wyclef Jean, GRAMMY and 17-time Latin GRAMMY winner Juanes, country artist Miranda Lambert, six-time GRAMMY winner John Legend, actress/singer Jennifer Lopez, actress/singer Lea Michelle ("Glee"), actor Chris O'Donnell ("NCIS: Los Angeles"), pop singer Katy Perry, four-time GRAMMY winner Lionel Richie, TV and radio host Ryan Seacrest, four-time GRAMMY winner Seal, Academy Award-winning writer/director Quentin Tarantino, and two-time GRAMMY winner Keith Urban are the latest presenters announced for Music's Biggest Night.
Previously announced performers include Beyoncé; the Black Eyed Peas; Bon Jovi; the Dave Matthews Band; Green Day; Lady Antebellum; Lady Gaga; Maxwell; Pink; Taylor Swift; the Zac Brown Band; Celine Dion, Jennifer Hudson, Smokey Robinson, Carrie Underwood, and Usher in a special 3-D GRAMMY tribute to Michael Jackson; and Mary J. Blige and Andrea Bocelli in a special fund-raising segment for Haitian relief.
Previously announced presenters include actress Kristen Bell, pop/R&B singer Justin Bieber, actor Jeff Bridges, pop singer and actress Miley Cyrus, actor Josh Duhamel, pop sensation the Jonas Brothers, nine-time GRAMMY winner Norah Jones, pop singer/songwriter Ke$ha, two-time GRAMMY winner LL Cool J, GRAMMY winner and three-time Latin GRAMMY winner Ricky Martin, 10-time GRAMMY and three-time Latin GRAMMY winner Carlos Santana, and nine-time GRAMMY winner Ringo Starr.
T-Pain and Urban each have four nominations: T-Pain with Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals for "Blame It" (with Jamie Foxx), Best R&B Song for "Blame It" (with James T. Brown, John Conte Jr., Jamie Foxx, Christopher Henderson, Brandon R. Melanchon, Breyon Prescott & Nathan L. Walker), Best Contemporary R&B Album for Thr33 Ringz, and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "I'm On A Boat" (with the Lonely Island); and Urban with Best Male Country Vocal Performance for "Sweet Thing," Best Country Collaboration With Vocals for "Start A Band" (with Brad Paisley), Best Country Album for Defying Gravity, and Best Long Form Music Video for Love, Pain & The Whole Crazy World Tour Live.
Foxx and nine-time GRAMMY winner Eminem are each up for three awards: In addition to those mentioned above, Foxx has a Best Contemporary R&B Album nomination for Intuition. Eminem's nominations are Best Rap Solo Performance for "Beautiful," Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group for "Crack A Bottle" (with Dr. Dre & 50 Cent), and Best Rap Album for Relapse.
Drake has two nods: Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Song for "Best I Ever Had."
Four-time GRAMMY winner Beck, Colbert, Perry, and Seal are each nominated: Beck for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for "A Day In The Life," Colbert for Best Comedy Album for A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift Of All!, Perry for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Hot N Cold," and Seal for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "If You Don't Know Me By Now."
So that viewers at home can enjoy the unique 3-D tribute to Jackson, CBS and Target have partnered to provide millions of free 3-D GRAMMY Glasses. From Sunday, Jan. 24 through Sunday, Jan. 31, Target stores nationwide will exclusively offer these 3-D GRAMMY Glasses so that fans have the opportunity to see the film that was very personal to Jackson. Additionally, the audience at Staples Center will share the 3-D experience, wearing the same glasses as those being worn by viewers at home.
Blige's and Bocelli's performance (audio and video) of the Simon & Garfunkel classic "Bridge Over Troubled Water" will be made available for download at iTunes.com/Target following the telecast, and all proceeds will go to the American Red Cross, benefiting ongoing earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. This year marks the 40th anniversary of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" receiving GRAMMY Awards for Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, and Song Of The Year, and the song will provide a moving tribute to the survivors of the tragic events in Haiti.
As part of Bon Jovi's performance on the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards, fans will have an opportunity to decide which Bon Jovi hit the band will perform. For this "You Pick It, They Play It!" special segment, viewers can log on to CBS.com now and vote in the final round for one out of three of their favorite hit Bon Jovi songs: "Always," "It's My Life," and "Livin' On A Prayer." There is no registration to vote, and fans may vote as often as they wish. Additionally, a 30-second clip of each song may be viewed. Voting will continue until Bon Jovi's performance on Jan. 31, when the song with the most votes is revealed live during their segment.
Additionally, the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards Pre-Telecast ceremony will take place from 1–4 p.m. PT at the Los Angeles Convention Center and will be streamed live internationally on GRAMMY.com beginning at 1 p.m. PT.
Well-attended by nominees and industry VIPs, current GRAMMY nominees Tia Carrere and Kurt Elling will host the star-studded ceremony, which will feature performances by nominees including Montreal-based duo Beast (vocalist Betty Bonifassi and drummer/composer Jean-Phi Goncalves); jazz vocalist Elling; contemporary R&B singer Lalah Hathaway; classical guitarist Sharon Isbin; and R&B singer Charlie Wilson as well as a special bluegrass performance by nine-time GRAMMY-winning singer Ray Benson, country instrumentalist Alison Brown, two-time GRAMMY winner Jim Lauderdale, singer/songwriter Michael Martin Murphey, three-time GRAMMY winner Bryan Sutton and singer/fiddle player Gabe Witcher. Presenting GRAMMY Awards in 99 categories will be current nominees Colbie Caillat, Mick Fleetwood, LMFAO, and Tonex as well as percussionist Sheila E., Flack, and five-time GRAMMY-winning producer/songwriter and Recording Academy Chair Emeritus Jimmy Jam. The live stream of the Pre-Telecast will remain on GRAMMY.com as video on demand for 30 days following the event.
The 52nd GRAMMY Awards will take place live on Sunday, Jan. 31 at Staples Center in Los Angeles and will be broadcast in HDTV and 5.1 Surround Sound on the CBS Television Network from 8–11:30 p.m. (ET/PT). The show also will be supported on radio via Westwood One worldwide, and covered online at GRAMMY.com and CBS.com, and on YouTube. Additional performers, presenters and special segments will be announced soon. For GRAMMY coverage, updates and breaking news, please visit The Recording Academy's social networks on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
The 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards are produced by John Cossette Productions and AEG Ehrlich Ventures for The Recording Academy. Ken Ehrlich and John Cossette are executive producers, Louis J. Horvitz is director.
Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com
Your Weekly GRAMMY Social Roundup
Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Ne-Yo are featured in the 10 tweets and Instagram posts we didn't want you to miss
Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Your Weekly GRAMMY Social Roundup
Colbie Caillat, Kelly Clarkson and Robert Glasper are featured in the 10 tweets and Instagram posts that we didn't want you to miss
Chris Farley is my hero cause he loved bringing joy to peoples lives and making them feel good and thats all I ever wanna do too.— Scott Mescudi (@KidCudi) July 16, 2015
in my line of business there is no room for mess— Thom Yorke (@thomyorke) July 13, 2015