When Grammy-nominated folk rocker John Hiatt was discussing his upcoming album with The Examiner in January, there was one point he stressed before signing off: If you liked his work, check out the musical efforts of his Nashville-based daughter, Lilly Hiatt. “She just made a great record ‘Trinity Lane’ and she’s done this all on her own,” he said with parental pride. “All she does with me is ask me for advice or a shoulder to cry on when she’s having tough times on the road.” At 34, the daughter seems as sagacious as dad, but her sound is pure, hickory-smoked alt-country, her lyrical subjects awash in traditional tear-in-your beer-isms, made all the more convincing by her degree in psychology.
Your dad recently praised your defiant DIY attitude, and how you never once called in a familial favor.
Aw! That’s so sweet of him. But the respect is mutual, I can assure you. But I don’t really know how else to do this. And I’ve definitely taken opportunities given to me. I’m not one of those people who’s constantly strategizing ways to take the utmost advantage of things, though. I just put my head down and go. Because the bottom line is, somebody else can’t really make things happen for you. I know that all too well.
What have you learned from your father?
I’ve learned so much from him. But I think mainly I learned to just write. A lot. He used to have piles of yellow legal pads around, and I’d see them and think, “Wow, my dad sure writes a lot!” But he really dedicated the time to his craft. And again, you can’t really tell somebody how to write a great song. So I watched my dad. He worked hard and he wrote a lot, so now I write a lot, too. And you’re bound to get better at something if you just keep doing it.
But your songs are a bit darker. You even sing about the death of David Bowie and how it affected you.
Yeah, His death did hit hard. And it gave everyone a dose of their own mortality, like, “No! We’re all going to die — David Bowie died!” It was crazy. But I’d already been thinking a lot about death, and how we really don’t understand it, so it’s painful. And I was really heartbroken when I wrote “Trinity Lane,” which is really nothing new; my first two are heartbreak records, too. I’d been looking to others to validate me for a long time, and it was an exciting thing — just getting to a point of feeling cool on your own, like, “I’m complete! Exactly this way!”
IF YOU GO
Amanda Shires, Lilly Hiatt
Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. Aug. 18
Tickets: $20 to $25
Contact: (415) 885-0780, www.eventbrite.com