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Sara Hickman (photo by Todd Wolfson)

A Conversation with Sara Hickman

Puremusic: Although it certainly suits me, this may be the first interview I've ever done at 9:00 a.m.

Sara Hickman: [laughs] Well, I apologize for that. However, I promise to make it as delightful as I can.

PM: When did you get up?

SH: I got up about a quarter to 7:00. But I get up about that time every day.

PM: You sing poignantly about insomnia in your song "To a Maddening Ghost." Is that is serious problem, or?

SH: Uh-huh. Oh, part of it is genetic. It was triggered when I was 13. But my dad and his mother both were hardcore insomniacs.

PM: I see.

SH: I've gone to three different sleep clinics, and they've all pointed out that genetically that's going to be a part of my life style. Yeah, it's very hard. And it's gotten worse. Around the time I got signed to Elektra it really started getting crazy, because when you're touring and then you're getting up early and traveling, it gets your body all out of whack. So now it's habitual, too. It's something that I just live with.

PM: Yeah, that's rough.

I've heard your music over the years, but while digging into this record a lot, and reading up a lot about you, one is led to understand that wow, that's definitely a whole lot of woman going on there.

SH: [laughs]

PM: You've done so many things. All these awards and so many things that you've accomplished. Are you what you'd call a driven person?

SH: No. You know what I think it is? I'm very aware of death. I don't feel threatened by death, I'm not afraid of death, but I'm aware that it's going to arrive someday. So I don't know that "driven" would be the description more than the notion that I just really enjoy life. I really enjoy my friends, I enjoy my community, I enjoy being of service to the world and trying to make it a better place while I'm here. And being, hopefully, a good role model to my children. So that's kind of the four corners of my thinking.

PM: It sounds more like directed than driven.

SH: Yeah, that's a good way to put it.

PM: I mean, one might as well be directed by death, because man, it's coming.

SH: Yeah. And the one thing about death that is consistent is that no one knows when it's coming, but it is coming. And we all have to face it, and we all face it alone. So I figure, well, it's coming to the party. I didn't invite it.

PM: Right.

SH: But I might as well be friends with death instead of letting it rule my life. I might as well kind of have a friendly handshake with it. It's like, "Yeah, you're there, I know you're there, so I'm going to live the best I can until you take me away."

PM: What kind of a girl were you growing up?

SH: [laughs] I was really shy, very shy.

PM: I'm looking at that shy picture of you on my desktop. I always like to have a picture of the person I'm talking to when I'm talking to them.

SH: Oh, really?

PM: Yeah, it's a lovely, very cute picture of you, the one with your hands to your mouth. It's on the bio on the website?

SH: Oh, with the big smile?

PM: Well, kind of big smile, but it's hidden by your hand.

SH: Oh, oh, oh. I can't remember now.

PM: Yeah, it's a lovely picture at any rate.

SH: Well, thank you. I was blessed in that both my parents were artists, so our house was very creative. We were always weaving or making things with clay or writing a script for a new summertime musical that my mom would help put together. And we would sew curtains, and we would have actual stage props made out of old refrigerator boxes that we'd put together and painted. It was a very proactive neighborhood that I grew up in, so we were all playing and riding our bikes.

And I played my guitar. I loved, loved, loved my guitar, it was my best friend. So I feel like I had a really happy well-balanced childhood until my parents got divorced. And then it was like a tsunami had blown in and everything was devastated and dark.

PM: Wow. How old were you then?

SH: I was twelve.

PM: Yeah.

SH: So definitely the way I look at my life is like chapters in a book. There was this chapter of happiness, and then dat, dat, dat, dumm [Beethoven's Ninth] chapter five. [laughs]

PM: Wow. So are they still around, your folks?

SH: Uh-huh. My father lives in New Ulm, it's a little town between Houston and Austin.

PM: Sure. I know the German counterpart. [Ulm is near Munich.]

SH: Yeah. That's it. It's a little German community, yeah.

PM: It's a very nice town in Germany. It's where my brother's wife is from, actually.

SH: Wow. We have a connection.

PM: It's a small world.

SH: And my mother lives in Livingston, Texas, which is up from Houston, in the woods. And she is married to my stepfather, Jim, and they are RVers. They travel around the country in their RV.

PM: RVers. Good. For a second I was trying to figure out what the hell does that word mean, "ar-vee-ers."


SH: I think it means recreational vehicle.


PM: That's funny.    continue

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