Margo Price has never shied away from a fight. Her first record, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, reflects on the years of struggle—including a jail stint and hocking her wedding ring—she went through on the road to making it, and used songs like “This Town Gets Around” and the heart-rending autobiographical epic “Hands of Time” to call out music industry rejection and sexism. Her second, All American Made, doubled down on spotlighting injustice, as she sang about being rendered a ‘second-class citizen” on “Pay Gap,” and class struggles alongside Willie Nelson on “Learning to Lose.” But the album’s most poignant song is the title track, a barebones closer that touches on the Iran-Contra affair, welfare, and whether the president is afflicted with a guilty conscience, painting a picture of what it’s like right now—and really, what it’s always been like—just trying to make it in America.
Today, Price is releasing a video for that song. It was timed to arrive just after the US midterm elections, in which Democrats took back the House of Representatives, Texas Democratic hopeful Beto O’Rourke—whose final rally Price played at—came up just short against Ted Cruz, and a record number of women won seats in the House. With the midterms came a slew of firsts—the first Native American women and first Muslim women elected to Congress, and first openly gay Governor, Democrat Jared Polis, among them—that signalled wins for diversity in representation. Price’s “All American Made” video captures that diversity on the ground, turning a lens toward places like Atlanta, Detroit, and LA. The video also goes to New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward to visit a museum worker named Leona Tate, to rural Indiana—where Trump supporter Sherrell Street tends to his farm in the wake of losing his wife—and Tennessee, with the Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition. It’s the result of a collaboration between Price, Carlos López Estrada, and Kimberly Stuckwisch.
“Her and I have known each other for a very long time and I'm a big fan of her work,” Price says over the phone from her home north of Nashville. “She created a concept: basically a house on the back of a flat-bed trailer, traveling through the U.S. They went to Detroit, Atlanta, Indiana. They went out west. And just captured real people. No actors—just a good mix of the diversity across the United States.”
NOISEY: What do you hope this video communicates to people?
Margo Price: To really just show that even though we're all really different, there's a common thread that runs through the United States and that diversity makes us beautiful. So many people are divided right now. It feels like there's a left and there's a right, and there's a lot of disagreement between those two sides, but there are a lot of similarities as well.
Did you learn anything about the people or places showcased in the process of making it?
I don't know if I learned anything I didn't already know. But I think the footage in New Orleans is especially powerful. That whole area was really vital in showcasing civil rights and how that has had an impact on our country and how it continues to. We're still fighting a lot of those same battles that have been going on since the '50s and '60s.
What was the experience like playing Beto O'Rourke's final rally in Irving, Texas?
It was incredibly powerful. I love listening to him speak. I think he differs from so many politicians I've heard. He speaks from his heart, and he speaks the truth, and I was really rooting for him. I think he did such an incredible job, and I think we're gonna see great things from him in the future. I don't know many people who could've made such a dent in that election. He hit home for a lot of people because he's representing voices that aren't often heard. It was really great to be there and get to talk to him. I met him once prior at Willie Nelson's Fourth of July Picnic, and he actually got up on stage and played with Willie at the end, so we all kinda had a chance to sing together. I think he's just really an incredible human being, and I look forward to hearing more from him in the future.
Did you watch his concession speech?
Yes, I did. Really powerful. And him dropping the F-bomb.
How did you feel finding out he'd lost?
Obviously it would've been incredible to turn Texas blue, but I think it was such a close race and he really put up a good fight. I think everything happens for a reason, so I don't really look at it as a loss. Like I said, there are gonna be bigger plans for him in the future, and I look forward to seeing what those are.
How are you feeling about the state of the country now that the midterms are in the rearview mirror?
I'm hopeful. I think it's great we've got the House [of Representatives]. There were so many incredible women who won, and women of color, and I think it's great to have those voices represented. Obviously I wish that the Senate race would've turned out differently, and that Tennessee would've been turned blue. But I think we're making progress. I don't identify with one political party. I've never considered myself one side or the other. I listen to each person individually, hear what they have to say, and make a decision based on that. But I know that the Republican Party right now is not representing my values and my beliefs, so I know we all really have to band together to support Democratic candidates and keep things balanced. I think people are fired up and I'm excited for the future.
The video does a great job of communicating a unified message.
I think a lot of times, people think, “oh, well if you voted for Trump, you've gotta be a terrible person,” or, “if you identify with the Republican Party then you're this,” or, “if you identify with the Democratic Party then you're this.” I don't think it's that cut and dried. All across America we've got people who all really want the same thing but have a different way of getting there. They might have a couple fundamental, core values they disagree on, but at the heart of the matter, we're all just humans living on this planet, trying to survive, trying to raise our kids and our families, and I don't think anybody really has bad intentions. So we really wanted to show a little bit of everybody.
Last time we spoke was about a year ago when All American Made came out, shortly after the Las Vegas Strip shooting . Just last week, 12 people—including a Vegas survivor named Telemachus Orfanos—were killed at the Borderline Bar & Grill , a country bar in Thousand Oaks, California.
It's heartbreaking to see his mom's response to that. I can't even imagine.
Why has calling for an end to gun violence become so important to you, and what can people do to help that cause?
I think that it's become desensitized. Because it happens so often, people don't even talk about every single one that happens. It's every day. I find it heartbreaking that more people are being killed in schools than in our military, it seems. I have a son, and I want him to be safe. I find it unnerving that this could happen anywhere. It happened at the Waffle House in Tennessee. It happens in church, it happens in school, it happens at concerts. I don't wanna feel that fear all the time.
I grew up in a family that had guns. My father was a hunter, and I think there's something very honorable and beautiful about hunting for your own food. But we've got a real problem with the types of guns people can get their hands on and background checks. There need to be more rules and regulations. It just makes sense. You go to a course to get your driver's license, to operate a motor vehicle. It only makes sense that you have to go through a series of background checks. There's got to be more restrictions on what kinds of guns we're giving people. Nobody needs a semi-automatic. Nobody needs a Glock. We don't need AR-15s, we don't need that to hunt. So I think the NRA just has a really strong grip on people, and it's a bit of brainwashing, in my opinion, on their end.
But for so long it's been taboo to even talk about it. I think the first way to solve this problem is to open a conversation and start getting the wheels in motion to make some changes, so people start speaking out about it. Obviously, the best way to end gun violence is to vote, and it's to vote for representatives who care about putting an end to this.
Why are you fighting for change, and what are the changes you're fighting for?
I guess I've been unafraid to speak out against things I think are unfair because I have a heart in my chest. I've always been that way. Even with my first album, I was speaking out against the music industry. And when I see something that's wrong, I'm not gonna just bite my tongue. That's just not who I am. I want to be a voice for people who don't have one. I know a lot of times, people are really turned off, especially in the country music industry, when a woman has strong opinions. But that's never stopped me before and it probably won't stop me in the future. But I definitely want to see the families that were separated at the border brought back together. I would like women's rights to be protected. I don't understand why we've got a bunch of men making decisions about women's bodies when it's never been the opposite way. And of course, I'd like to see an end to gun violence, and more restrictions put on that.
Those are the things in the forefront of my mind. I wake up and I read the news and I look at my son, and I hope we can make things better in the future. Clean water as well. The bit of good news we have is that the Keystone pipeline has not been put in yet, and I think we really need to be serious about taking care of our environment, or we're gonna have a massive water crisis. It's already happening: Flint's without water, Austin's had problems with clean water recently. I just really hope we can open our eyes and see that. I think a lot of people live in this white privilege bubble and think that nothing affects them. It's going to affect all of us, sooner or later.