Miranda Lambert Explains Why ‘Carousel’ Still Brings Her Tears Ahead Of ACM Awards

Lambert will perform the fan-favorite track during the 2023 ACM Awards.

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Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

May 11, 2023

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Miranda Lambert at rehearsals for the 58th Academy of Country Music Awards from Ford Center at The Star on May 10, 2023 in Frisco, Texas; Photo by Christopher Polk for PMC, ACM Awards

On Thursday evening, Miranda Lambert will take the stage to perform “Carousel,” during the 2023 ACM Awards. It will be an extra special performance from Lambert as “Carousel” is one of her favorite songs she’s ever written. 

The song was written by Lambert with her frequent collaborators Natalie Hemby and Luke Dick. It’s featured as the final track on her latest album, Palomino. 

Lambert recently shared the story behind the “bittersweet” song. She says that she and her co-writers added bits and pieces from their personal lives throughout the lyrics. 

The Lyrics Feel ‘Very Real’

Miranda Lambert at rehearsals for the 58th Academy of Country Music Awards from Ford Center at The Star on May 10, 2023 in Frisco, Texas; Photo by Christopher Polk for PMC, ACM Awards
Miranda Lambert at rehearsals for the 58th Academy of Country Music Awards from Ford Center at The Star on May 10, 2023 in Frisco, Texas; Photo by Christopher Polk for PMC, ACM Awards

“I mean, there’s sweet stories in that one too Smith County is the county I grew up in, and Johnny Davis is a road out by where my farm is. And we took some nuggets from our surroundings to make that song feel very real,” she explained. “Because parts of it are real for each of us.”

As they were writing, Lambert said they felt moved by the lyrics and thought, “This is getting somewhere…stuff’s happening.” As she began “feeling things,” the rest of the song fell into place. 

The ACM Awards Triple Crown Winner connects with “Carousel” on a deep level. So much so that she said she’ll be thinking about the song for years to come.  

“One day…when I’m in my Airstream somewhere at a KOA, half retired, you don’t retire from this business, as we know, half retired, I’ll be like hearing that song. And I’ll go straight to that place. And it’s sort of permission to move to the next phase, and that it’s okay, that the circus leaves town because it does at some point for everybody,” she acknowledged. 

A True Connection To The Song

She went on to draw parallels between the song and her life as a touring musician, further demonstrating her connection to the track. 

“It’s such a metaphor for what we do, you know, it’s the same. There’s a part of the circus that lives in us, because of what we chose to do when we bring the party to town. And then we pack it up and we take it to another town and it’s very sad,” she added. “Have you ever been to like…I’d stayed on the stage and see after everybody was gone and just see like a sea of like, empty beer bottles and the wind blowing piece of trash across the lawn and amphitheater and you’re like, wow, just like 20 minutes ago. We were all in here doing this huge party together and living this huge dream. And now the diesel’s running and we gotta go. It’s kind of sad and it’s kind of beautiful. You know?” 

“Carousel” has become a staple in Lambert’s setlist, and while she sings it often, the song still brings her to tears.

Listen To “Carousel”

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“When it becomes her at the end when she says, ‘I miss my Harland,’ it’s like kills me. And even just being a writer on it, like it still kills me. I know what’s gonna happen. We made it up, but it’s still just pierces my heart every time. It’s her. Like, if you write a song that makes your own self cry, I guess we did something right.”

Thursday evening’s ACM Awards performance will mark the small screen debut of “Carousel.” She told Music Connection “It’s a huge moment in the show” in Las Vegas

“It’s not stripped down, but it’s more dramatic because of lighting and production. Sometimes it’s hard to get through,” she confessed. “Being a writer on it, I’m still so in it and wrapped up in the story every time I sing it. And it’s heartbreaking singing it every night, I want to make sure that I’m getting the story across.”

Five Nominations

Additionally, Miranda Lambert is currently nominated for five awards, including the night’s highest honor, Entertainer Of The Year.

The country superstar also made history as she earned her record-breaking 17th Female Artist Of The Year nomination, surpassing Reba McEntire, who has 16 total Female Artist Of The Year nominations.

ACM Awards Performers

Lambert will take the stage during the 58th Academy of Country Music Awards alongside Jason Aldean, Jordan Davis, Kane Brown, Luke Combs, Cody Johnson, Ashley McBryde, Dolly Parton, Jelly Roll, Ed Sheeran, HARDY, Keith Urban, The War And Treaty, Lainey Wilson, Bailey Zimmerman and more.

Additionally, “Country Music’s Party Of The Year” will feature a star-studded list of collaborations and unforgettable moments. Reigning ACM Female Artist Of The Year Carly Pearce will team up with Trisha Yearwood to perform a special medley of in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Yearwood winning Female Artist Of The Year. 

Meanwhile, Cole Swindell will join forces with Jo Dee Messina to deliver an epic performance of the “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” remix and Ashley McBryde will take fans to Lindeville with a performance of “Bonfire At Tina’s.”

Gabby Barrett, BRELAND, Brandy Clark, Jordan Davis, Mickey Guyton, Tyler Hubbard, Dustin Lynch, T.J. Osborne, Jon Pardi, Carly Pearce, MacKenzie Porter, Dak Prescott, Emmitt Smith, Tanya Tucker, Keith Urban and Trisha Yearwood are scheduled to present during the ceremony.

Garth & Dolly To Host

Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton; Photo by Art Streiber
Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton; Photo by Art Streiber

The two-hour awards show will stream live for a global audience across 240+ countries and territories exclusively on Prime Video and the Amazon Music channel on Twitch.

Co-hosted by country music icons Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks, the 2023 ACM Awards will broadcast live from Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas at 7/6c.

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Lauren Jo Black

Written by

Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for Answers.com and her work being featured on Forbes.com. She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.