Charlie Robison Concert at State Fair of Louisiana
Let’s just get it out of the way right up front: In the five years between his last and most successful album yet, Good Times, and his new Dualtone Records release, Beautiful Day, Charlie Robison got divorced from his wife Emily (of The Dixie Chicks). So it’s only natural to assume that this is his “divorce album,” which is not altogether untrue.
But as with all devoted songwriters, Robison writes from a perspective that draws from and speaks to larger matters and issues within human experience and life in these times. And as the title indicates, even if this album is to a notable degree about and informed by the end of his marriage, there’s something different and more at work here.
Beautiful Day is ultimately an album that chronicles the processes and resulting growth one goes through and finally the redemption to be found within such a major life event. And it reflects a change in approach is the way Robison writes his songs. “In the past most of my songs were stories written from a third-person perspective,” he explains. “This is the first album where I’m writing in the first person. It wasn’t like I did it by design; I didn’t have any choice.”
Hence Beautiful Day is a musical and emotional journey that travels through a vivid landscape of feelings and moods from certain places to other ones new and wholly different. Like such certified classics as Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks and Willie Nelson’s Phases & Stages, its narrative center is the end of Robison’s marriage. Yet unlike too many divorces, where rancor and pointed anger is a key part of the mix of feelings, this story is one of two people who love each other and their children, but due to their situations, themselves and the demands of their careers, the marriage is no longer tenable. And that’s what makes Beautiful Day another significant creative work about divorce with a different tale to tell than any other.
Robison’s divorce, which was finalized in August of last year, is by no means typical. “It was a completely amicable thing,” he explains. “We didn’t even have separate lawyers. We did the whole thing ourselves, and we get along better now than we had the last four years of our marriage. We hang out all the time,” he notes.
Watch the Charlie Robison video “My Hometown”