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- American singer, songwriter, actress
- American songwriter
LeAnn Rimes’s pandemic year was likely more eventful than most: She not only won season four of The Masked Singer while performing as the Sun (that Lizzo cover!), but she also holed up with her longtime producer and manager Darrell Brown to work on her next album, which she thought had been put to bed.
“I realized I wasn’t supposed to be done with this album yet,” she tells Glamour. “There were other things that needed to be said.” She and Brown “basically quarantined together” while putting the finishing touches on the project, God’s Work, which is slated to come out this fall.
But before then, Rimes celebrated her 25th year as a recording artist on July 9, which means, yes, her explosive first album, Blue, really did come out that long ago. (Casual reminder that she was only 13 years old when she blew everyone away with songs like “Hurt Me” and “The Light in Your Eyes.”)
“As an artist, I love to bring people to different emotions that they don't normally touch,” she says. Ahead, LeAnn Rimes looks back at her catalog, spanning country and pop genres, and relives some of the memories and stories behind five of her favorite tracks she’s ever worked on.
Rimes originally released “Borrowed” on her 2013 album, Spitfire, but rerecorded it with legendary rocker Stevie Nicks in 2018 for the Reimagined E.P. Nicks has said that she cried on her living room floor when she first heard Rimes sing the track, which is about loving someone who may not be totally available to you in that moment.
I came up with the idea for this song while I was on an airplane. I looked over at another passenger and saw she was reading a tabloid with my face on the cover. She was reading about my affair [with now husband Eddie Cibrian]. I just lost it. That woman’s husband actually stood up and came over to me and said, “It’s okay to be hurt. It’s going to be okay.”
Something happened in that moment, and the title “Borrowed” came to me. My heart was really open and exposed. I brought the title back home and wrote, “I know you're not mine, only borrowed.” I sat down at a writer session, and I literally was on the floor for six hours bawling my eyes out. It was therapeutic.
That was the first time I really understood the depth of which I would go to expose the truth because the song was very polarizing. It was a real turning point for me as a songwriter and as an artist. I was very unwilling to be unwavering in my truth.
To be able to perform that song with Stevie Nicks in the studio was a defining moment. To have her open up to me about what that song meant to her…it felt so good to be validated by another artist. Especially because I had so many women who were like, “How could you write that? This is so hard to listen to.” But to me, it’s like, “How do you think it was to write?”
“What I Cannot Change”
The third single on her 2007 album, Family, “What I Cannot Change” earned Rimes a Grammy nom for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. Rimes loved the sentiment behind the song so much that she also wrote a book and launched a website with the same name. She used both projects to connect with readers about the hardships in their own life.
That song was probably where I started speaking truth through my music as a songwriter. “What I Cannot Change” is about a moment in time with my parents where I was having a challenging time. I was in my early 20s and trying to become an individual and find a new relationship with them. This song was my version of the serenity prayer. Since it came out, I’ve seen these words tattooed on people’s bodies. It’s just one of those songs that so many people relate to because it’s about that deep surrender. For me, it’s the ultimate high to see people use these words for different things.
“Remnants” is the title track to Rimes’s 15th studio album, released in 2017. The song is an anthem for picking up the pieces of your life and showcases the powerhouse vocals that made Rimes famous all those years ago.
I was really focused on uplifting people out of darkness because I know there are a lot of people who have lived in some dark corners. This song has the lyrics “I will build a kingdom from my remnants.” It’s about reclaiming your power, saying no matter how many pieces have been shattered, you will be whole again. I was in the studio recording it and had to hide behind a wall because I was working with Darell and the genius producer Mark Batson and he told me, “I really want you to dig into it.” But I didn’t want him to watch me, so I was singing behind a wall. There was this anger and rage coming from me. Over the last year and a half, I've been playing around with this song on the piano a bit and I’ve turned it into this very sad, heartbroken midballad kind of thing. I can’t wait to play it live.
“Throw My Arms Around the World”
Rimes released this track in December 2020, in the middle of the pandemic and on the heels of her massive Masked Singer win. She performed it during Fox’s New Year’s Eve broadcast after releasing a BTS video about making the recording.
It’s a rallying cry for people to wake up to all of the destruction against Mother Earth. The message here is that we’re all connected to her, on physical, emotional, and spiritual levels. I'm at that time in my career where what's being asked of me is more of service to something than what's been of past works of mine. On this album specifically, I worked first with the rhythm and the drums, and then built it out from there. I can't think of that song without crying.
“Innocent” has yet to be released but will appear on Rimes's next album, God’s Work, due out later this year. It’ll be her 18th studio album and follows 2020’s Chant.
During the pandemic I was doing a lot of somatic experiencing therapy. And I had this moment where I felt this piece of me drop into my body that felt like it was hovering over me for a while. When it did, I felt an overwhelming sense that all things were good for 48 hours. That was where “Innocent” came from because I felt like my innocence dropped back in for a moment—my pure joy and my own essence.
Starting so young in this industry where I’ve been sexualized and overworked from a really young age, I've always felt like such a piece of my innocence was taken from me. While working on the song, I also kept hearing stories about child sex abuse. It all came together in this song, which is sort of a letter to myself to remind myself that innocence isn’t actually lost. All I have to do is call upon it. It was also a reminder to victims of any kind of abuse that their innocence is also not lost.
Jessica Goodman is the former op-ed editor at Cosmopolitan and the author of They Wish They Were Us and They'll Never Catch Us.
Originally Appeared on Glamour