"I think God is less shallow than we sometimes give Him credit for.I think He's a little more open to the fact that we're a little screwed up.I don't know, but that's what I've been taught." Smith might be comfortable with conventional Christian parlance, including the use of a male pronoun to describe God, but it's the tensions between such received notions and the more searching undercurrents in her lyrics that lend her music ballast.
"It tends to be a lot of what I write about," she says. I think everybody, most people do." For all of Smith's talk of matters of the spirit, she insists her music isn't explicitly Christian. I would go if I found one that I was comfortable enough in." So how do you get fed spiritually, if not in a community of other people? "I don't know." Then, after a short pause, she lowers her voices and adds, "Maybe that's something I should think about. If I don't know what I'm talking about, I won't write about it. " "I hope so," she says after I nod my head by way of affirmation. "I've been really blessed in people's reaction to me," she goes on.
"You can try to deny that you're a dog lover, but if you love dogs, you're going to love dogs. I'm just saying that sometimes it's easier to figure out how to go with your own flow. "I actually don't really spend a lot of time physically going to church," Smith explains. "I have really neat people that I admire who have really neat outlooks on the world and we all just kind of visit and chat," she goes on. "People who maybe need to have a voice or something.
But that's not really what I've been put here to do.
I think the way that I approach my spirituality or songwriting is more of a discussion than a case of, 'You must believe the way I believe.' Smith freely invokes the vernacular of evangelical Christianity in conversation.
But that wasn't what Smith, who is adopted, encountered after graduating from high school, when her search took her to an ultraconservative seminary just outside Memphis.
"It wasn't healthy," she says, not volunteering the name of the institution.Gold and platinum LPs line the walls, and trade magazines are scattered everywhere.Smith, a naturalized daughter of Tennessee whose Long Island brogue intensifies the more emphatic she gets, looks pretty damn cool -- rocker chick cool -- in her stovepipe jeans, knee-high boots, and cotton tunic.When our conversation turns to where God might be amid all the suffering in the world, she says, "I think He's ready to go.I think He's ready to work with us if we just ask and let him."I didn't agree with their doctrine of God at all, and that caused problems.