This month's feature comes from Patty's November 1997 CMT Showcase, where she gave an extensive interview. We hope you enjoy it :)
Growing up, Patty seemed to have a chaperone wherever she went. Whether it was her parents, her brother Roger, the Wilburn Brothers or Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, she was always looked after. She loved them all, but as will happen as she grew into adulthood, it really got on her nerves.
In 1975, when the Wilburns were not on the road, Patty began performing with her backup band to keep her career going strong. This was the first time in her life she would go out on the road without a chaperone.
At first I thought Doyle had planted someone to keep an eye on me out there.. but I started to rebel at that time. I was eighteen and I had ideas of my own... as foolish as they might have been. I would tell the girls now who are at that age that I know that we have to get out there and learn things on our own, but do try to listen to others ... they're just trying to look out for you.
But I'm glad that I did experience... glad that I did step out there, and I did learn.. a lot more about hardship. And a lot more about disappointment. But I learned a lot about the world in general.
Admittedly from loneliness, Patty became deeply involved with a drummer in the band.
Even as much as I traveled, I was always in this little space, and by the time that I was nineteen, I married a young man that was part of that group that I was out with. I guess it was my mother that I was worried about. She was right by the way! But I got out there and from loneliness I became involved with this person.
At nineteen Patty left the Wilburns and moved with her new husband, Terry Lovelace, to North Carolina where they played nightclubs, honky tonks and speakeasys. She was in a rebellious state and it was a troubling time for her family and for Doyle Wilburn as well, who had become to think of Patty as family.
I think he had as much belief in me as Tanya Tucker's father had in her. That's what I meant about Doyle... he treated me as family, and I think he always felt that I was a very, very, very special kid to him. For some reason he cared a lot about me, in order to try and make it happen. Of course, he never got to see it happen. When I had moved to North Carolina, and I had married the drummer, Doyle was very disappointed. He even came to North Carolina to try and get me to come back.
I remember that time very well. And I was kinda disappointed that she left Nashville, because Nashville is the music capital of the world in my opinion. I think you must be there to do well and excel in country music. And I sort of hated to see her go out of town and do that, but I knew it was a matter of time till she would be back. Because this is where it's happening at. This is where music is.
After about five years, Patty realized that her marriage was in serious trouble, but continued to try and make it work. It was hard. They found themselves losing touch with each other after years of playing bars from eleven at night till six in the morning, four or five nights a week, in places that during breaks there was no where to go and socialize except with rowdy people who came to drink. Although today, Patty's music is considered pretty traditional country, rock and roll is definitly an influence.
I think my father thought I had lost my mind. This music is going to just ruin your life... it ruined your life... But it was a music that I learned from again... You woudn't believe the people that would come to this club. They would get off from work, and they wouldn't go home. They'd come to this club and have a few beers, or whatever.. dance or.. whatever the case was. I learned a lot about people and life in those places. I mean there was all walks of life... people who had hit the very bottom. And myself, there was times I felt myself becoming one of those people too. There was some hard times for us both, my ex-husband and I. And I think at the time, it caused us to be torn apart, and we lost respect for each other. And it got to the point that we didn't know each other.
While still in North Carolina, Patty's father died and she was devastated, adding to the sadness and loneliness she felt in her failing marriage. Eventually she and Terry divorced, and in 1985, much to the delight of her loved ones, Patty moved back to Nashville. She's not bitter about her years in North Carolina. She looks upon that period as a time of growth which she learned about people and a lifestyle she never would have understood otherwise.
That time became part of her voice, her songwriting, her music.
It is something that we try to protect our children from. That we don't want you to know about those kind of things. But I think it's good that we do know. I think it's important. I don't have children , but if I ever do, I hope that I'm wise enough to know what to keep from them, but I also hope I'm wise enough what to share with them. Not to hide so much. I learned so much about what to feel in a song from those years of playing those clubs. I was saddened sometimes because I thought 'I left Nashville, I left all that for this? What happened to me? What is wrong with me?' But I think what was happening was that I was beginning to find... me. Find who I really was. And what kind of person I was inside and out. I still believe to this day it happened the way it was supposed to happen.