O Patty

Patty Loveless isn't just Down From the Mountain, because she never left

As is the young, prime, ever-so-desirable 18-to-35-year-old demographic that makes up a large portion of the Down From the Mountain audience. "I think a lot of what's going on, I feel that a lot of kids, especially college kids, they always are intrigued and have such interest in music that is very rootsy. And not just, you know, sort of bluegrass music--any form of music. They have an interest in, to know the history of it and how it came to be. It's so good to see that still continue on. Music is history--it speaks to us about our heritage and where we come from, and I think all of us, whether we're in college or of college age or whether of the age that I am now, myself, that we want to know about the music that brought us here."

Which is not to say that Loveless rejects the music she has made before Mountain Soul. It was successful for her, and much of it was and is justifiably praised. Five years ago the Chicago Tribune called Loveless "the most consistently serious female artist in Nashville." Four years ago, the executive director of the Country Music Association noted that "Patty Loveless is a timeless artist." But like Nick Faldo, a top pro golfer who rebuilt his swing so he could be a championship golfer, Loveless knew that a certain level of success wasn't enough. With the commercial accolades had to come a feeling of artistic satisfaction. To crib the lyrics of her Mountain tourmate Emmylou Harris, Loveless went looking for the water from a deeper well.

"I felt good about the records that we've made over the years," she says, "but it got to the point that I feel that there were more and more new faces coming into play, and radio's format was getting shorter and shorter and shorter...And I think, through that whole process, that the album Strong Heart [2000] and the songs that were released from that sort of got lost in the shuffle...So, I was just getting a little bit frustrated, and I didn't want it to get that way, because I enjoyed what I did, I enjoyed making music, I enjoyed making records. So this album, this music, I did it because I wanted to. It was true to me.

Patty Loveless, daughter of John Ramey, a coal miner who died of black-lung disease and worshiped Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs
Patty Loveless, daughter of John Ramey, a coal miner who died of black-lung disease and worshiped Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs

"I feel that I try to stay true to my own feelings and my past--even if it's not successful today, somebody can turn around and listen to the music and say, you know, even 50 years from now, and say, 'That was really great stuff,' and I'm hoping that, even though I will maybe not be around, that that will be something I can leave behind."

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