Like lots of musicians, Suzy Bogguss started out playing on street corners for meal money, and stayed at people’s houses to avoid paying hotel rates while on tour.

She was lucky to land a job singing at the country theme park Dollywood — named for country-music legend Dolly Parton — and that exposure led to a major record deal and a 23-year recording career in Nashville.

But what if things hadn’t worked out?

“I’d be doing the same thing. That’s always been my fall-back plan; I can always go back to touring in a camper truck and staying at national parks,” said Bogguss, 53, from her home outside Nashville. “I just never had any question in mind I’d do this, no matter what happened.”

Bogguss will not have to stay at a friend’s house when she plays a concert Sunday at the Opera House in Boothbay Harbor. But she may show up in a camper truck. Unlike a lot of performers who come to Maine, Bogguss says she and her family (husband and teenage son) come here for vacations once in a while, even when she doesn’t have a show here.

“Any time we can get out of Nashville in the summer and go to Maine, we try to,” said Bogguss. “We’ve gone up to Boothbay before. We’ve rented RVs and gone out to the mountains, the Appalachian Trail, and we’ve been up to Bar Harbor.”

After Dollywood, where she sometimes opened for Parton, Bogguss established herself with a string of Top 40 country hits in the late ’80s and early ’90s, including “Cross My Broken Heart,” “Someday Soon” and “Letting Go.”

She has been writing songs for as long as she can remember — when she was a child in the “cornfield town” of Aledo, Ill., where her father worked for International Harvester and her mother worked at a grocery store. Her father was a fan of classic country, and Bogguss has fond memories of driving his truck around town blaring his 8-track tapes of Eddy Arnold, Buck Owens and Patsy Cline.

But she also sang in the church choir, and all her family members were into different kinds of music — pop, jazz, even barbershop.

Bogguss kept the first song she ever wrote, “a real sappy, one-lonely-soldier-left-on-this-Earth kind of song.” At that point, she wanted to be a folk singer in the tradition of Peter, Paul and Mary.

But nowadays, as a songwriter, she leans more toward the classic country tradition of writing about what happens to people every day, from broken hearts and broken appliances to broken dreams.

“I get most of my ideas from the good and bad things that happen to my friends and family,” said Bogguss. “I’ve had friends breaking up with each other and written about that. I had a niece who went out with this guy who really didn’t treat her well, and I wrote a song about that.”

 

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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