"You know, when you're young, you have this idea of being famous and making money and, you know being a rock star," Pink explains from Los Angeles, just back from a ten-day vacation to France and Italy with her new hubby, motocross champion Carey Hart. "So you taste this carrot, and you taste this carrot, and it tastes like spinach only I don't really like spinach [laughing]. So early on, my famous line was, 'I'm not doing it; send me back to McDonald's' because the payoff wasn't fun enough. It wasn't interesting enough. I would have burned out if I didn't have a chance to take risks."
Pink still remembers the night it all clicked for her. Not long after she moved to Venice Beach, California (where she aspired to be discovered), Pink hit her first Los Angeles club a world where being perceived as cool is more important than actually having fun. "I was sitting there, just baffled," she says. "This is what you do? No one's dancing. Everyone's looking at each other. So I went outside, found the first homeless guy with a guitar, and hung out with him all night."
It took Pink a while to come to terms with the business she'd gotten into (what she calls "this whole art of commerce thing"). But after turning her career away from mindless pop "Pop music is supposed to be easy, fun, and entertaining, right?" Pink found herself in a whole new ballpark, unexpectedly supported by her label and free to experiment with a real musical identity. Pink has consistently evolved with every album, morphing into something different and always more challenging. She doesn't let the risk of failure dictate her songs. Her 2003 album, Try This, was a commercial flop. But Pink isn't changing her approach.
"It's a very simple fact: I get bored easily," Pink says. "I don't like to repeat myself. I feel like my voice is my instrument, and I want to use it in as many ways as I can and keep trying to be better in every way as a human, as a writer, as a singer. To just do something that scares me. And other people, which I seem to be very good at."
Pink's fourth outing, I'm Not Dead, continues to surprise, if only because it's her most conscious, introspective album yet. She tackles the risks of fame and celebrity, personal metamorphosis and regrets, and even a failing presidency (that's George W., of course). "I feel like I sort of woke up and took my blinders off," Pink says of the recording experience, which resulted in an initial haul of 40 songs. "It's a more aware album for me, I think."
Pink's brazen risk-taking and outspokenness hasn't won her a seat at the pop world's cool kids' lunch table. "People probably find me very irritating," Pink admits. But she's made her fair share of friends. In fact, her collaborators are as diverse as her musical tastes: Steven Tyler, Missy Elliot, Linda Perry (4 Non Blondes), the Indigo Girls, and Tim Armstrong (Rancid), among others.
"I think certain people just see through all the hoopla and see I'm just a simple girl who wants to fucking rock out," Pink says.
It's easy to see why Pink doesn't fit in with most of her contemporaries. While Spears and Simpson were shaking their tits in support of President Bush, Pink had her own message for the commander in chief "Dear Mr. President," which takes Bush to task for his war-mongering, homophobia, and less-than-clean past ("You've come a long way from whiskey and cocaine"). Pink says she wrote "Dear Mr. President" on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2005. As soon as it was released, fans quickly came to expect the song would follow "Stupid Girls" as a single. But it didn't. When asked why she kept it buried in the album, Pink says quite succinctly, "For a personal reason: That song is too important to me to allow others to look at it as a publicity stunt."
It might have something to do with the role her father, a Vietnam vet named Jim Moore, played in Pink's life. "I am Jim Moore's daughter in every way," she says. "I loved the fact that my dad was a vet; I loved the functions I went to. I loved marching on Washington with him. He absolutely made me into an independent, do-it-yourself, to-thine-own-self-be-true person."
But that doesn't mean they saw eye to eye often especially regarding "Dear Mr. President." "He said, 'Isn't it great you live in a country where you get to say things like that?'" she says.
Still, the plight of the U.S. soldier is never far from Pink's mind; she's one of those "unpatriotic" Americans who support the men on the ground just not the commanders sending them to their possible deaths. This "patriotism" is probably why Pink opted to include a song written by her father as a hidden track on I'm Not Dead, fulfilling a lifelong promise to him that he never took seriously.
"['I Have Seen the Rain'] is a song my dad actually wrote in Vietnam," she says of the Loudon Wainwright III-style acoustic tribute to war veterans everywhere. "It's the first song I ever learned. We'd sing it at campouts. I would always tell my dad, 'I'm going to be rich and famous, and I'm going to record that song on one of my albums,' and he'd say, 'Yeah, right. '"
"I Have Seen the Rain" closes out the eclectic I'm Not Dead, an album that, while it might come off as uneven, speaks volumes about the type of woman Pink is an artist, a reluctant pop star, and a certified boat-rocker. One has to wonder if she knows how to take the easy road anywhere. Does she?
"No I'm trying, though," Pink says, laughing loudly. "I try to choose my battles now, instead of fighting all of them."