Her major label experience did not sour Flores on Nashville. "It's a total melting pot of country music," she said. "There are more great writers in that city than anywhere. If you stay in the writer's circle you can gain a lot from it. There are a lot of little joints where you can go out and hear people. It's inspiring to hear other people. Dancers go see other dancers dance. Writers read newspapers and books. You can influence other people with what you do as well. There are really cool things happening on lower Broadway (downtown Nashville). It used to be really seedy, but it's getting popular now. A real rootsy band (from that scene), BR-549, just signed with Arista."
Staying in "the writer's circle" is something Flores seems to do no matter where she is. A look at the writer's credits of her three Hightone albums reveals an oddity. Almost every original song is co-written, and almost all with a different person. (Her previous albums were almost entirely originals; her newest, being something of an homage, contains a number of covers). Co-writers include Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Guy Clark, Tom Russell, Wendy Waldman, Leroy Preston (ex-Asleep At The Wheel), Chip Taylor ("Wild Thing") and Jason Ringenberg (of Jason & The Scorchers).
"I just call up one of my friends and say 'Let's write a song,'" Flores said. "I'm friends with everybody I've written with. I don't call anybody I don't know. I usually can't write with somebody unless I've at least had a drink with them. In Nashville, they make writing appointments (with strangers), but even there I bet they go out to lunch or something before they can actually write."
One of her most interesting tales involves a song called "Love and Danger," which she sang as a duet with Joe Ely on her 1993 album "Once More With Feeling."
"I had seen that and thought 'what a cool title for an album!'" Flores said. "Three weeks later, I was in Nashville and ran into Jason Ringenberg at a party. I had known him years before when I was in (the punk band) The Screaming Sirens. We decided to write a song together. I started writing my ideas out. I came up with the chorus to "Love and Danger" completely unconscious. Back in L.A., my friend reminded me, 'That's the title of Joe Ely's new album.' I went to look at his album and found there was no song called "Love and Danger." Two months later, I did a show with Joe in Switzerland and played him the song. He said 'I wish I'd heard that before I recorded my album.' So I said 'You can record it on mine.'"
So how does she feel about not being a star? "So many factors enter into what makes a star," she said. "It's the T-word: Timing. But I've always felt like a star. Why would I want to do someone else's music? Everyone turned down the Beatles." She pointed out people like Willie Nelson and Bonnie Raitt struggled for years before making it big.
"Because my star is not shining as brightly as someone else's, there are still people who appreciate what I do," she said. "I'm happy doing what I'm doing, travelling in a van with up-and-coming players...I'm happy doing my songs. If I have to be unhappy to have that big giant star in the sky, I'm not going to do it."
"I'm not concerned with the future," she said. "I live in the now. What am I doing now that can make people, including myself, the happiest? I can't stand liars or pretentiousness. You have to be honest to live right. I live every day like it was the last day of my life."