A pop-radio staple in the mid-1990s thanks to her hit songs "I Don't Want to Wait" and "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?" Paula Cole took a six-year break from the music biz and fled Los Angeles following the birth of her daughter, Sky, in 2001. On the heels of her second post-hiatus album, Ithaca, the singer-songwriter talked to us from her hometown, Rockport, Mass., where she once again lives.
Q What motivated you to take time off from music?
A I needed a breather from the industry—I was a shade-loving plant who was blanched by the spotlight. In the end, a humbler career is a far better fit for someone as introverted as I am.
Q Has your songwriting process changed over the years?
A For one thing, I don't beat myself up when I'm feeling creatively blocked. I'm able to recognize that my experiences outside of songwriting are often sources of inspiration later on, which is maybe a sign of maturation.
Q You gave up meat at age 14. How about Sky; is she vegetarian?
A She's not interested in meat, but I allowed her that decision. I believe that living vegetarian is one of the best things you can do for your kids, and one of the greatest ways for your soul to shine.