Miranda Lambert Is Glad Her Parents Didn’t Shelter Her From ‘Hard Stuff’
Miranda Lambert is one of country music's finest modern storytellers, and she says she owes that skill to an upbringing that exposed her to all aspects of life — good and bad.
On a new episode of Southern Living's Biscuits & Jam podcast, Lambert recalls growing up with two parents who were private investigators. The family had an "open door policy" for those in need, especially women who were escaping domestic violence.
Lambert and her brother Luke often shared their dinner table and household with these women — an experience that taught them early on about the suffering and difficulty many people go through.
"I think that [Mom] and Dad just had a calling for really trying to lift these women up that were going through a rough time, and I saw a lot," the singer remembers. "I had a really sheltered childhood in a way, because it was, like, church on Sunday, football Fridays. Mom had cookies when we got home, even though she had just been staking out somebody's house, watching them cheat or whatever. It still felt really normal to Luke and I."
But the day-to-day of their childhood life differed from their peers in a couple of big ways.
"We saw firsthand, with these women and children coming into our home, sitting around our kitchen table, helping us do dishes — they had bruises on their faces and they were battered, and abused, and their kids were, and they were living in our home. It was just a lot to see up close," the star explains.
Now, the singer is grateful that her parents didn't keep her sheltered from the realities of people coming from abusive homes.
"That's hard stuff, man. And you can't just live in [your] small-town little Baptist bubble. That's not reality," the singer says. "... And I think that's where I got a lot of my material for songwriting early on, is seeing hard stuff. And also the servant's heart of helping people through something."
"I just think it's so important of a lesson to learn, too: Stop and take a minute and help somebody," she adds. "When they need to be picked up, pick 'em up. And that was really instilled in Luke and I from an early age."
Lambert's own family wasn't immune to hard times, either. Elsewhere in the Biscuits & Jam podcast, she describes a time when the family had "lost everything" and her parents moved them to a new town.
"I mean, they literally were like, 'We're gonna start over and rebuild our lives, and get back on our feet,'" she says of that time. "And my dad decided that his family would never be hungry, and he would live off the land and do a subsistence farm. And that's exactly what happened. My dad's a hunter, so we had tons of meat. And he planted a garden in a compost pile, and we raised rabbits and that was us working in that garden."
Lambert remembers going out to the garden with her brother and picking out vegetables for a stir-fry dinner, as well as her mom canning home-grown food to preserve it.
"Like, we still had fruit roll-ups and Pop-Tarts, but ... those were treats, you know?" she says.
"And I'm so thankful because the first thing I did whenever I became an adult was buy a farm and start a garden," she relates. "I'm not very good at it. I leave town too much to grow anything, usually."
But just like the eye-opening experience of housing domestic violence victims helped inspire early songs, Lambert's deep-rooted relationship to her family home would go on to play out in her music. The house she grew up in was memorialized in her 2010 hit, "The House That Built Me," which won a Grammy for Best Country Female Vocal Performance the following year.
"It was a run-down farmhouse that my mom somehow made into a beautiful home, little by little," Lambert reflects. "That's why that song was so special when I heard it — because I lived it."