Miranda Lambert has a habit of taking unexpected departures with her music, whether it’s the sneering attitude and edge of her trio Pistol Annies or something like the ultra-subdued Marfa Tapes collaboration from 2021. Even more unlikely was her 2021 dance remix of “Tequila Does” that cast the boozy country tune in sun-soaked tropical house beats and its accompanying video, which looked like a pool party during Pride with its vibrant mix of different races, genders, and sexualities.
“I’m constantly trying to find things that are out of the box for me and that keep it interesting,” Lambert tells Rolling Stone, “[that] keep me on my toes and keep my mind open.”
That includes streaming television. Lambert recorded the new song “Y’all Means All” for the current season of Netflix’s Queer Eye, set in her home state of Texas. Written with her frequent collaborators Luke Dick and Shane McAnally, it’s a joyful, inclusive country tune that offers encouragement and support for anyone feeling a bit lost. “Yes, queen, go, queen / dip it like a Dairy Queen,” Lambert sings in the chorus.
“We laughed the whole time because it was writing for something that’s such a feel-good show,” Lambert says.
This spring, Lambert will reunite with her past touring partners Little Big Town for the Bandwagon Tour, a largely outdoor trek that kicks off in April. And if her single “If I Was a Cowboy” is any indication, there’s also new solo music in the works.
How did “Y’all Means All” come together, and how did Netflix get involved?
Netflix called my manager and were interested in me writing a song for the season because it was filmed in Texas. Their mission is usually to try to incorporate some local flavor. We have a house in Austin, my brother lives in Austin, so I was like, “Yes, this is cool.” I had watched the show but I hadn’t dove in, so I binged two days’ worth. I was at my farm by myself. I bawled all day every day watching this show, it’s so sweet. My brother and his husband have helped me learn a lot more about the LGBTQ community, so I was like, “This is perfect.”
It’s been really affirming to see you give such full-throated support to the LGBTQ community. Have you had any pushback?
I haven’t had any pushback besides like one comment in my [social media] comments. I also don’t care about that. I learned a long time ago, I am who I am unapologetically, and that’s how I have a career. But that doesn’t mean you are everybody’s favorite all the time and that’s OK with me. But this is such a bigger thing than anybody’s negativity. If I can be part of some positive change and some good vibes then I definitely want to. I’m lucky to have this platform and that I’ve built this career where people do pay attention to what I say, and I used it to the best I can, with my MuttNation [Foundation] and what we’re talking about. I just feel like that’s part of why God let me have this gift is to do some good things with it.
You’ll be reviving your Bandwagon Tour with Little Big Town in May. What makes them such ideal tourmates?
It creatively works. The music is a good parallel. We’ve all had long careers and have stayed in this game and reinvented ourselves creatively over and over. And besides all the work stuff, it’s freakin’ fun. They’re great people. It really breaks it up. I’ve been playing music for a living on a stage since I was 17. After a while you have to figure out what makes it fun for you and not just the same routine. Out of all the tours I’ve done, I’ve never had more fun than I did on the Bandwagon Tour.
How are you navigating things with Covid always looming?
I mean, besides being real over it and frustrated? My team [and I], we plan and then we adjust. We have not stopped planning things. Luckily, the way we routed [our tour] and adjusted it last year, we played all but two shows. You can’t stop moving forward even if your plans get canceled. It’s like, what if it changes and we don’t have anything? Last year was pretty much making up for lost time financially with my crew and band, making sure I could take care of everybody, and also just bringing joy again. We got to play shows! You don’t realize how much entertainment can help people through something hard, and when it’s taken away from everybody it’s very depressing.
We tend to take things like live music for granted, and then there’s this huge void when it’s suddenly gone.
Yeah, but in turn it taught a lot of us that have been on the grind for 20 years that like, “Oh, there’s life out there? What do you mean, ‘not working’?” It’s been a good lesson the last couple years, of forced balance. For me, it was like, “Alright, my tour is canceled, so now I’m going to paint, I guess.” Or, my husband’s going to make bread and I’m just going to sit there and watch. It’s very calming. It brought it back to super simple and I had never had that before in my adult life.
Are you nervous at all about touring during Omicron?
I’m ready to move ahead. I’m over it all. I know [Covid is] a real thing; I’ve had it. All the conversations and all the battles and all of that, it comes down to I want to do my job and I want to just live my life. I’m proceeding as if that’s happening. There’s constant changes. I’m constantly Googling things — we’re supposed to do C2C festival [in the U.K.] and I’m Googling what’s happening over there. The biggest point is, we’re in control of nothing. For all those people who are planners like me, I have to really find my inner Zen. This is not in your control. Last year we did so much despite the state of everything: We put out music and a Christmas album and we got to tour, so I feel like I still got to work and do what I was meant to do in our own way.
You released the new single “If I Was a Cowboy” in October. How does that compare to other new music you’re creating?
Since I had the time off in 2020, I did a ton of writing. So I’ve got some things up my sleeve. I really enjoyed getting to write when it was all I could do. I’ve got some stuff coming out that is from a really creative time. “If I Was a Cowboy” is a little sneak peek of that.