Carter senses she's getting a bit too serious in thinking about music, performing and life. "I'm getting all cosmic here, but really truly I believe this stuff. I'm not all Zen and everything. I have all tons of character flaws." she opines.
"It's not like I've lived this monk life. I try not to take for granted the gift I've been given and share music with people maybe touch somebody in some way and make them laugh or cry or whatever."
"I didn't take it for granted. It became a little bit too much work...It had never really felt like work, but I have never taken for it granted."
"I went down another road for awhile, and it took me awhile to get back out of that. It's hard. It's really hard. I can't pooh pooh it away and say it was a part of my life. It was a huge mess of my life for awhile there. I totally have to acknowledge it every day."
"Drugs and relationship problems and just being too stressed out. Emotional stuff. But then when all this stuff happened...within an eight-month period I think it was...I just couldn't keep it together. I don't know people who coulda. I have some people in my family who say they did, but I beg to differ."
Epstein had a very serious drug problem, only Carter says she was unaware of it. The drugs got him kicked out of the Heartbreakers. It also led to he and Carter getting busted in Santa Fe, N.M. in 2001 - she for possession of heroin and both for possessing a stolen vehicle. Epstein died Feb. 23, 2003, reportedly of complications from drug use. "You hang out with the barber enough," says Carter of her use of drugs. "You're going to get a haircut."
Then June Carter Cash died in May 2003 followed six months later by her husband Johnny. Carter's sister, Rosey Nix Adams, died that October at 45 in a trailer after being involved in drugs.
Carter took awhile to get her life back together, thinking she may quit music.
But first she got rid of the drugs. "It wasn't fun any more," she says. "I was bored with it." She also felt it hurt her musical creativity.
"I had some great friends who sent me off to get help. I'm really proud to say I haven't used drugs in a very long time...It's been 4 1/2 years. I couldn't continue doing it. It didn't work for me anymore...That worked for a little while, but then it started wearing on me. I never ate. All I ever ate was ice cream."
Carter moved to Nashville for a few years, performing in "Wildwood Flowers: The June Carter Story" in Nashville, which opened a few doors for her.
"I kind of got the bug again. I started talking with my little brother, John Carter, about doing something in the studio." John Carter Cash works in Nashville as a producer.
"I wanted to use the studio to do demos. He wanted to produce me, but...we put down the whole album...I did all the demos in seven days, which is really quick."
"From there, I went out on the road. I pressed it. It was very rough. He has a different approach to making records."
Carter jokes that her time in her half-brother's studio wasn't free as she paid him for using it.
Carter thought about getting someone to produce her and came up with McFee. She worked with 30 years ago and later sang vocals when he was in country rock band Southern Pacific on the hit "Time's Up."
"Through all my lives, they've seen me all kinds of shape and all kinds of ways, and we've made all kinds of music together," says Carter of McFee and his wife. "I've trusted him so much."
They recorded the album. "We started fresh. He did so much work on this. He saved my ass. It was mutually rewarding for both of us."
Carter says, laughing, she usually had recorded "with whoever I dated, and they happened to be a producer."
After such a long time off, did Carter feel comfortable in the studio?
"I felt like I never left except maybe I have a little more appreciation for it because I missed it. I was scared that it would hurt to sing these things because they're really personal, but I needed to sing them because they're really good."
"Any performer that I've ever talked with, any time you go away for awhile, whether you take a year off or take 10 years off, when you go back on stage, I'm never nervous, but there's little thing (of thinking) 'what If I don't remember how to do it?'"
Carter also had moved back to California from Nashville by this point with husband number four, Joseph Breen, who had acted in soap operas.
Carter started writing songs when she met Breen about 3 1/2 years ago.
"The first song I wrote was 'Bring Love,' (the song appears on "Stronger," a love song to Breen)...I got inspired."