The last time I talked to LeAnn Rimes, years ago, she told me how great she was getting along with her husband at the time. A lot has changed.
Some weeks after that, Rimes was seen with another man, actor Eddie Cibrian, whom she went on to marry. Now they are two peas in a pod, filming a reality show together and catching flak from our tabloid culture (and his ex-wife).
In other words, Rimes is a walking, talking country song, just like Johnny Cash and Tammy Wynette before her.
Rimes called me to talk about her concerts Saturday and Sunday at The Orleans.
“I’m kind of restructuring my whole life,” Rimes said.
What that means is, she is moving away from Curb Records after 20 years, though she will follow the musical turn she took last year in her lush and pretty album, “Spitfire,” which she likes for its “earthiness” and “truth.”
“I’m kind of having a panic attack,” she said. “It’s exciting and terrifying. But I’m excited to get new, fresh blood around me and understand where I’m headed now as a 31-year-old woman and not a kid.”
If you follow Rimes in the tabloids, you might forget about that big classic throat of hers. But she has tried turning celebrity into a positive.
“The past five years, I guess, my celebrity side of things has taken over,” she said. “Unfortunately, the music kind of got buried. But that’s what I expect and hope will change. I’m so proud of that record, and I know there’s so much more there. I love to sing.”
I said to Rimes that people will go see her in concert for the music, not the tabloid stuff. But she surprised me with this response:
“Through great turmoil, there’s been a lot of great things to come out of it. Being really intimate with the people and the fans who come to the show is one of the greatest things to come out of it.
“I’m not ashamed to talk about my life. You come to see me sing, and you get a whole other side of me live now.”
I guess living out loud makes sense because people who went to see Cash and Kris Kristofferson in the 1970s (a Golden Age in country) knew their back stories, too.
“Right,” Rimes said. “Back in the day, it seems you could live life, and write about it, and people would love it. Now the life I’m living and writing about is obviously true, but people love to make up this whole other alternate life they think you have.
“It’s crazy with tabloids.”
At one point, tabloids claimed Rimes was broke while simultaneously going through a $50 million divorce.
“The altered life and my real life don’t mesh. It’s nice to get it through in my music and have people come to the live shows and get an understanding of who I am.”
Rimes and Cibrian also are wrapping final filming for a reality series.
“It’s been super fun filming it. We both were really stand-offish on any kind of show like this. When we spoke to VH1 about it, they gave us an opportunity to have fun with it.
“You get a sense of our relationship, obviously. It was one of those things like, ‘You think you know us, but you have no idea’ kind of thing. ‘So why don’t we play around and show you?’
“People already write our lives for us, so it was not intrusive. It was honest and fun, and we enjoyed it more than we thought we would.
“I think sometimes people get this idea Eddie and I take our selves seriously, and we don’t.”
I asked her whether there was anything else she wanted to tell the world.
“July 17,” she said.
That’s the day “LeAnn &Eddie” debuts to the world.
Doug Elfman’s column appears on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/entertainment/reel.