Kathleen Edwards: A Breakup Song's Bigger Picture

Jan 19, 2012
Originally published on January 19, 2012 7:16 pm

Kathleen Edwards is a singer-songwriter from Canada who just released her fourth album, Voyageur. There's a lot of heartache and self-doubt on the record, and that makes sense — much of it was written around the time of Edwards' divorce from her husband and musical collaborator. The song "Pink Champagne" would seem to be a case in point: It takes place at a wedding where a young bride is second-guessing her decision. But Edwards says the message of that song isn't quite so literal.

"Sometimes I feel frustrated that the focus of the material is about a divorce," she says. "It's not about a divorce. It's about re-examining where you are in life and trying to figure out the mistakes you've made and how you could be a better person."

"Pink Champagne" is about as emotionally raw as Voyageur gets. Edwards says that while it can be difficult to confront that part of herself, it's worth it when fans respond.

"I went through a really bad few years — and so did my ex-husband, I think. Everyone has ups and downs, and sometimes I think maybe I put a little too much out there," Edwards says. "[But] if someone says to me that this song is helping them get through something, that's validating. It makes you feel less vulnerable for having put it out there in the first place."

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The new album by Canadian singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards is filled with heartache and self-doubt. It makes sense - much of the album was written around the time of her divorce.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PINK CHAMPAGNE")

CORNISH: White carnations, a mother's clutch - in this song, "Pink Champagne," Edwards begins with an image of a wedding day. And if you listen to the lyrics, you can tell things are not going to end well.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PINK CHAMPAGNE")

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PINK CHAMPAGNE")

CORNISH: Can you tell us how the chorus came together?

: The referencing pink champagne came from my own, brief love affair with pink champagne where one, particular night as things were not going very well, I drank too much pink champagne. And afterwards, I reflected about how, you know, pink champagne tastes the same and - than - regular champagne. And all I could think of was that it still gave me the same hangover. And I kind of thought how it was funny that that translates in a lot of things in life.

CORNISH: Especially in the context of this, where even though we're talking about the song, about being at a wedding, it's really - it seems to be more about failed expectations.

: It is about failed expectations. There was a time in my life where I remember thinking to myself hey, you know, you're doing OK. You're not even 30 and you're married, you own a home and you have this career. And you really have your (beep) together and you've really sorted some things out, and you should be really proud of yourself.

And then I remember thinking that a house does not make you a better person, or a more complete person. It's just a house. And it's the things that you do in that home, and who you do it with and all that stuff, that's far, far more important.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PINK CHAMPAGNE")

CORNISH: Well, we appreciate you doing it on this song ,and on this album.

: Thank you. I - part of me hates you for picking the most raw song on this record to talk about, and I guess maybe it's inevitable. I don't care - of course, I don't hate you. I love you.

CORNISH: I love this song. Kathleen Edwards - her new album is called "Voyageur." Kathleen, thanks so much for talking with us.

: Thank you.

CORNISH: You can hear "Pink Champagne," and the other songs from "Voyageur," at NPRMusic.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PINK CHAMPAGNE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.