Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires discuss their marriage in a highly personal interview on WNYC’s Death, Sex & Money

I thought this new, highly personal interview with Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires – just release today–might be of interest.

While not household names, these two musicians – married to each other – have achieved critical acclaim. Americana Award-winning musician Jason Isbell, formerly of Drive-By Truckers and whose latest solo album Southeastern was hailed by Rolling Stone as “one of the year’s best in any genre,” recently married Texan fiddler Amanda Shires who was praised by the Huffington Post as “ha(ving) a way with words that goes far beyond her 31 years.”

Though they’ve only been married a year, the couple has already had their share of hardship: Isbell checked into rehab, Shires and Isbell both released solo albums, they’ve spent lots of time on the road, and they are still navigating the everyday complexities of settling into marriage all couples face.

On the latest episode of WNYC’s podcast DEATH, SEX & MONEY, Isbell and Shires open up to host Anna Sale for a very revealing conversation about marriage between artists, sexual temptations on the road, and the challenges of living a clean & sober life as a touring musician.

Some excerpts from the interview:

On their first year of marriage:
Isbell: I think we did a great job, we got along for a large part of it, and we don’t have the same arguments at the end of the first year that we had at the beginning of the first year. And I think that’s important. I think for anything to be successful, your problems have to become different problems over time.

On the importance of trust and how it can be unsettled by technology:
Isbell: Trust. Trust, we didn’t know each other very well. And I was a philanderer in a past life, so it was hard for her to trust me. That I was actually going to stick around, and wasn’t gonna make a fool of her. As far as—relationship wise. I wasn’t an easy person to trust, because I hadn’t been sober very long. I felt like hadn’t been a grown-up very long at that point. But I was determined. And I think we’ve had some more proof of that over the last year.

Sale: Would you put it the same way?
Shires: Yeah trust too, cus, he pretended like he put his trust more than he did. I think. All this technology and stuff, it’s easy to develop a new relationship with somebody else if you wanted to, but we got over that.

On co-parenting and family planning:
Shires: Generally when a woman has a child, the child is always left to the woman. The guy can go off touring or gallivanting around the world. I understand there’s sacrifice and everything, but I’m still a selfish person. I still want my own career and freedom and time. I want the — and I don’t know how this is gonna work, I guess I’ll see. I feel like if I do have a child, it’s something I’d be very involved in.
Isbell: I’ll be there until the baby or I’m gone from the earth. I’ll take care of it. I’m not gonna screw up on that responsibility. But at the same time, that motherly instinct when it’s combating the desire to be your own individual person for a woman, I can’t even weigh in on that. That’s just incredibly difficult for me to even wrap my head around.

On how cheating is a lose-lose situation:
Isbell: We don’t ignore it, the fact that there are other people vying for our attention. And that when you’re on the road, it makes it easier to think you can get away with stuff like that. We discuss it. If somebody’s worried, we talk about it. And usually if you name something, it becomes a lot less difficult to defeat.
Shires: Some days, I’m like, whatever he does, I have no control over his actions. Whatever he does or does not do, it’s no reflection on me. . . . Sometimes it helps me to say it right out, or say it in my brain, I’ll feel so bad for you if you f*** this up. I say it all the time.

On communication helping maintain sobriety
Isbell: I have certain things that I do when I want to drink, and usually the first thing I do is tell her I want to drink. I’m not gonna have one, so I’m not telling you this because you need to be on guard. I’m telling you this to say it out loud.
Shires: When you do that, it winds up being that we talk about why that is. For me it’s cool, I like to know what and when and why, and then, I’m just glad to be a part of it, I’m proud of you.

To hear the entire interview and read a full transcript, go to: http://www.wnyc.org/story/episode-preview-jason-isbell-long-distance-marriage/

You can also hear Jason and Amanda performing songs off “Southeastern” on WNYC’s Soundcheck here: http://soundcheck.wnyc.org/story/jason-isbell-in-studio/

Prepared by Mallika Dattatreya, Publicist of New York Public Radio, 160 Varick Street, New York NY 10013
T: 646.829.4331, F: 646.829.4327, E: mdattatreya@nypublicradio.org

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