Allison Moorer refused to confirm or deny whether she’d been on vacation, but some kind of break would have been well-deserved.
In the past year, the singer/songwriter, who performs Sunday night on “Mountain Stage,” made a move to Nashville, got married to singer/songwriter Hayes Carll, plus released a memoir and a companion music record, both called “Blood.”
She also adopted a dog, a Cyclopean Chihuahua/Jack Russel terrier mix named One-Eyed Willie.
The dog succeeds her last chihuahua, Petey, who died over a year ago.
Moorer said she and Petey had been together for over 12 years and she described him as an unflappable, rock ’n’ roll dog who went with her everywhere.
“He was my best guy,” she said.
Moorer loves the new dog, but Willie was an adjustment.
As the singer spoke over the phone, she said Willie was currently running laps around the kitchen table.
Moorer sounded light and breezy. Her new book probably isn’t. Among other things, the memoir looks back on the troubled childhood she and her sister, Grammy-winner Shelby Lynn, endured. That childhood ended before their eyes with the murder-suicide of her parents.
“Writing that book was not something I thought I’d ever do,” Moorer said. “It took becoming a parent to get the gumption up to do that.”
Trauma is a difficult subject to tackle, but she said motherhood changed her priorities. Parenting a severely autistic son made her re-evaluate what she thought she could and ought to do.
Her son, whom she had in 2010 with her now-former husband, Steve Earle, was diagnosed as autistic just before the age of 2.
Moorer said her son is a level three autistic. He doesn’t speak and requires a lot of support.
“I had to really refigure out my life,” she said. “So, I decided to go back to school.”
Moorer had 10 records and critical acclaim, but musicians these days make most of their money from touring. Traveling with a child would be a lot more difficult than touring with a chihuahua. Touring with a child who doesn’t speak would be nearly impossible.
“I decided to go back to school,” the singer said. “I decided to get an MFA.”
With the degree, Moorer thought she could maybe turn to teaching to supplement their income, but it also helped her hone her writing skills and use what she already knew in a different way.
Writing a memoir wasn’t that big of a leap for her.
“The truth is I’ve been writing a memoir for over 22 years,” she said. “Most songwriters do that.”
Songwriting and prose aren’t the same thing, she added. They don’t have all the same tools, but Morrison said she could apply some of the things from songwriting to telling a story without music.
“Blood” didn’t come easy. Moorer started the memoir about the same time that her son received his diagnosis and it took five years to complete.
“There were a lot stops and starts,” she said. “I must have re-wrote it four times.”
Moorer finally finished it in July of 2017.
This is an important book for the songwriter, but maybe not her last. She hadn’t planned on writing one book, but Moorer said she was already working on another.
The writing isn’t necessarily an occupation but might be an expression of who she is. Moorer said she might pick up paint brushes next. Who knows?
“I just want to live my life as an artist,” she said. “I want to grow a garden. I want to be a good mother, a good wife, a good friend, a good sister. I want to make art.”