As she gears up for the annual gay pride weekend and relishes the Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, Seattle singer-songwriter Mary Lambert can hardly contain herself.
“I’ve been giddy all week,” says the voice behind the Macklemore hit “Same Love.” But as she reflects on all that’s happened in the past year, she admits she never imagined it would become an anthem for the same-sex marriage movement, let alone a rising hit on the Billboard charts.
“I think for both of us it, was a no-brainer. It was just sort of like a non-issue and something that we wanted to write and something that needed to be said. But we didn’t feel like we were going to do this big thing,” she tells Shawn Stewart and me in an interview for this week’s edition of Seattle Sounds.
She couldn’t have been more wrong. The song began gaining national attention last fall when Macklemore and Lambert performed “Same Love” on the Ellen show, and Washington voters legalized same-sex marriage.
More recently, after Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us” both soared to the top of the Billboard charts, radio stations across the country began playing “Same Love.” The song has climbed to No. 28 on the Hot 100, and reached the top spot in Australia and New Zealand.
While you can’t imagine the song without Lambert, 24, she actually wasn’t the first choice to write and sing the signature choruses on “Same Love.”
“They (Macklemore and Lewis) were kind of stuck on the hook. I think they had been working on it for awhile and tried a bunch of things,” Lambert says.
A mutual friend suggested her to the duo.
“I think they might have been a little skeptical, but they were really sweet and they played the track.”
Lambert only had a couple of hours to come up with words. She looked into her own heart and pulled on her own experiences as a gay woman in a long-term relationship. She ultimately came up with four different choruses, including “I can’t change, even if I try, even if I wanted to. I can’t change, my love, my love, my love, she keeps me warm.”
She sang her version for Macklemore and Lewis and wasn’t sure how much of her work would actually make the song. But producer Lewis told her not to change a thing, and ended up using it all.
“It was a really beautiful moment to sort of sit in this dark room with them and have Ryan play the track,” she said. “And they had tears in their eyes.”
The song has touched countless people, and changed Lambert’s life. She had been working three jobs when she recorded it last year. Now, she can focus on her music and poetry full time.
She’s been in the studio recently, crafting the words from her parts on “Same Love” into a moving, heartfelt new ballad called “She Keeps Me Warm.”
“It’s got beautiful strings,” she gushes. “It’s got such an amazing sound to it.”
Lambert hopes to release the new song in the next few weeks and is working on a new video to accompany it. And even though she’s become a de-facto voice of the same-sex marriage movement and gay musician, she doesn’t see herself as anything more than an honest artist.
“‘Same Love’ gave me that strength,” she said. “I know that I can speak as a gay Christian and that’s what I can do. But it’s a tall order to be considered a gay icon or anything more. I just feel like a songwriter that’s telling the truth.”
Catch our conversation with Mary and her special acoustic performance of “She Keeps Me Warm,” Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m. on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM or ON DEMAND at KIRORadio.com. We’ll also be talking with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, and Wanz from “Thrift Shop” fame.
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