We have celebratory drinking songs, like Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places” and Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night.”
And then we have drinking songs like the ones which grace Lilly Hiatt’s “Trinity Lane.” Hiatt’s “I Wanna Go Home” is an honest look at some dark nights with the bottle.
Hiatt, like her father, underheralded singer-songwriter John Hiatt, had drinking issues. But each are sober.
“I enjoy not drinking,” Hiatt said by phone from a recent tour stop in Georgia. “I like having control of my life, and you don’t have that when you’re drunk.”
However, in the world of music comes a romantic vision of imbibing and writing classic rock songs. Such icons like The Doors’ Jim Morrison, The Who’s Keith Moon and AC/DC’s Bon Scott were as renowned for their drinking and debauchery as for their creativity.
“But all of those guys are dead,” Hiatt said. “There is a price to pay when you go too far when you’re drinking. I’m just pleased that I realized that I needed to change my life. What can I say? Sometimes we get our parent’s traits.”
The East Nashville resident didn’t just inherit her father’s penchant for drinking. Hiatt also has his knack for penning moving and catchy songs.
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“I definitely think what he has done as a songwriter has impacted my life,” Hiatt said. “I think I’m like my dad, since we’re both inspired people who have never lost our joy of the world, and we both like to observe what’s going on around us and put that into song.”
Hiatt, 34, crafts songs which are deep, honest and often melancholy.
“I think the new ones I’m writing are a bit different than the type of (sad) songs I’ve written,” she said. “They’re different lyrically and sonically. There’s more space in the songs, and I think the new songs are fun.”
Expect Hiatt to preview some of the fresh material when she performs Saturday (4/6) during Iowa City’s Mission Creek Festival. She’s part of the day’s free lineup at Big Grove Brewery & Taproom, taking the stage at 7 p.m.
“I’ll definitely be playing some of the songs I’ve written recently,” Hiatt said. “I know that a lot of people get stressed out if the songs go out via YouTube. But my view is that if some of the songs get leaked, that’s fine. I can’t do anything about it.”
The even-keeled Hiatt has a degree in psychology from the University of Denver and the demeanor to match.
“I think I take things as they come,” she said. “I studied psychology and I guess it helps in some ways, but I had no intention of working in that field. My parents said to go to college and I’m glad I did. There’s some things I learned that I can apply to life, which is good. I enjoyed college, but I love writing songs and performing. That’s what I was meant to do.”
The eclectic Hiatt, who has no problem going from blues to country to folk, can crank up the rave-ups and then hit with ballads.
“I love being eclectic,” she said. “My favorite singer-songwriters were all over the place.”
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Hiatt paid tribute to one of her heroes on “Trinity Lane” with the song, “The Night David Bowie Died.”
“Bowie was so versatile, unpredictable and enigmatic,” she said. “How can you not be intrigued or in awe of him. My song is about the night he died. It’s hard to believe he’s gone, but his impact will be felt forever. How can you not aspire to be great like he was?”
Hiatt will record her fresh cuts at some point in 2019.
“I like playing the new songs before an audience to see if they work live,” she said. “Then I’ll go to the studio and make the next one. I’m in a good space right now.”
WHAT: Mission Creek Festival: Lilly Hiatt
WHERE: Big Grove Brewery & Taproom, 1225 S. Gilbert St., Iowa City
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday (4/6)
ADMISSION: Free and open to public
ARTIST’S WEBSITE: Lillyhiatt.com
ALSO PERFORMING: Flash in a Pan, 2 p.m.; Jonathan Timm Band, 3 p.m.; Mercy Bell, 4 p.m.; Becca Mancari, 5 p.m., Middle Western, 6 p.m.