Matraca Berg is a songwriter and artist who recently re-released her debut record Lying to the Moon. She has written several number one hits, most recently penning Kenny Chesney’s “You and Tequila” with Deana Carter.
When did you write “Oh Cumberland?”
A long time ago. That must have been 10 years ago. There were two levels of what I drew from with that song. I wrote it with Gary Harrison, by the way, who is freakin’ amazing. I had a friend who had moved to LA, who is from Tennessee like me, and when she would call me, she sounded so lonely. I could just hear it, “Yeah, everything’s great. I’m making connections.” It just didn’t seem like a fit to me. She’s still there, and I still feel that way. But, that’s just me. Also, I made a pop record in LA, talk about wrong fit. It was just not the right kind of record. I was staying at a friend’s place in Santa Monica and driving to the valley to make this record. I was caught in this terrible traffic jam. It was the San Diego Freeway, and that was before we had those kind of traffic jams here in Nashville. [Nashville] was still a pretty small town. I had stumbled onto this program called City Billy on public radio, and they played Merle Haggard’s “Big City.” It came on, and I started crying. I was boo-hooing. That moment was a big change for me, so I wrote that song.
from this interview