IT’S A LAZY SUNDAY for most of Springfield, Mo., but not for Keith Urban. Having just bused in from his show in Oklahoma City the night before, the singer is trying to work in both a photo session and his second video shoot in two days before heading to tonight’s show, the 30th stop on his 58-city Light the Fuse tour. Later in the week, he’s due back in L.A. to continue taping his second season of American Idol, all while promoting his latest album, Fuse.
Still, Urban, 46, can’t help but notice the bright blue October sky and the sunlight spilling across the trees outside. He pauses to share the moment with his wife of seven years, Nicole Kidman, back home in Nashville. Passing his phone to a friend he says, “It’s just such a beautiful day! Can you take some pictures so I can send them to Nic? I want her to see this.” The importance of claiming a little sliver of his day for himself and learning to live in the moment is a skill that Urban has sharpened along the way. “Somewhere in the last couple of years, I’ve really grasped the concept of the brevity of time,” he says. “It’s very, very fleeting. No matter how many years are ahead of us, it will all be gone very quickly. I don’t want to miss any of it.”
Given their busy careers and the challenges of raising daughters Sunday, 5, and Faith, 2½, Urban admits that living in the moment is sometimes easier said than done. “Nic and I say, ‘Balance is never achieved; it’s just maintained,'” he says. “I’m a guy, so I’m not used to having to maintain anything. I’m used to achieving something, and good, that’s done, move on to the next thing. No, no, this marriage, this family, it’s a garden. It’s not fixed and then you move on; it’s maintained on a daily basis. I finally get that now.”
Urban sat down with PEOPLE Country to reflect on some of the biggest blessings in his life.
“I really feel like I was just sort of lost until I found Nic.
I would say that she’s been life-changing for me, but she’s been more than that: She’s really been life-giving for me. I wasn’t able to give myself to anybody until I met her. It wasn’t like nobody tried; I just wasn’t awake until I met my wife. She woke me up. It’s her heart, it’s her spirit, it’s her essence. She’s just got a really loving heart, an extremely loving heart. She’s an incredible mother. And she’s got a great sense of humor. I think a lot of people don’t know that. If she wants to punk me, she’ll get me every time! She’s an Academy Award-winning actress! She’ll look dead serious and say something, and I’ll be like, ‘Oh my God!’ And it’s a complete fabrication.”
“It’s a language, a way of communicating through melody and rhythm and chords.
I would have never had a way to communicate my wants or voice an expression of who I am without it. And the connection that people have with my music, it’s just huge in my life. People tell me how much my music means to them at meet and greets, but I think they have no idea how much I get from it as well. I can be exhausted or sick as a dog, or going through something in my life, but every single time I walk onstage and see the audience, it’s unbelievable. There’s always this euphoric energy.”
“When I’m home, I just love waking them up in the morning and taking them up to bed at night.
They always want to get piggybacked downstairs in the morning, but there’s two of them, so I have to piggyback them both, and they don’t want to do it separate. So I get Sunday on my back, and I get Faith on Sunday’s back, and I hang on to them, and off we go down the stairs. And up the stairs. It keeps me in very good shape. It’s a beautiful thing, really.”
PLAYING THE GUITAR
“I can’t even describe it. It’s like having a genie that travels with you your whole life.
It’s like an angel. It’s an entity. Like love: As I give to it, it gives to me. Certainly the longer I’ve played, the more I’m able to express through it. I’ve never really had a dog, but the guitar reminds me of a dog. It’s so loyal. It’s always there. It doesn’t judge. I can grab the guitar when I’m feeling incredibly good, I can grab it when I’m completely destroyed and having the worst time of my life, and it will be right there with me and help me not feel so alone. That’s really been it for me. It’s been my constant companion all the way up, really until meeting my wife.”
“I’ve lived here 21 years now, and my life has happened in this city more than anywhere else in this world.
It inspires me to create and it’s been the nest of our family. We can just live a real life here, without being under the glare of scrutiny of other cities. That’s what we both crave. The thing that brought us together is that we wanted a real life. To be a mom and dad and raise kids.”
“We do a lot of travel. Particularly if Nic is shooting a film somewhere, I’ll do a lot of traveling back and forth from touring to wherever she’s located.
Occasionally they’ll come out on the road as well. I travel five times more than what I would have done a few years ago, but so what, if I can see my family on a regular basis, then that’s what I chose to do. Five and a bit years ago, Nic was in Australia shooting the film Australia. She was pregnant and I was touring in the States. Nic was going to have an ultrasound and I didn’t want to miss it. So I flew out of L.A. on a Monday night, landed in Australia Wednesday morning because you lose the day. I had lunch with Nic, we went to the ultrasound, and then I drove back to the airport and caught a 3 p.m. flight on Wednesday afternoon. I was able to fly into Los Angeles, catch a connecting flight into Salt Lake City and play the show that night. Whatever it takes!”
“I never made a decision to go into music.
I started playing guitar at age 6. For me, playing guitar and singing was just like walking. One day you start walking, and you never question it, and you just keep walking for the rest of your life. I’m very grateful to have parents who supported that. They’re both very working-class people, and both grew up on farms in New Zealand. When I turned 15, I quit school and was playing five nights a week in a band. I couldn’t drive until I was 17, so Mom and Dad had to drive me to all my gigs! They’d sit patiently and wait for the show to be over and then drive me home.”
TURNING MY LIFE AROUND
“I’ve been sober for seven years.
It’s one of the greatest blessings in my life because of how destructive I was. My own personal sobriety has given me a life I never imagined in my wildest dreams. I wouldn’t have any of the things that I have in my life today without it. Life now is incredibly more calm and way more simple.”
MY FRIENDS IN COUNTRY
“Country music really is about community.
We’ve had Kenny Chesney over for dinner, Jake Owen, Eric Church … We have playdates with Brad and Kim. Dierks comes over with his girls; Sheryl Crow has been over … Everyone has kids so we all get together. It’s good for us and it’s good for the kids.”
“I just love the actual act of driving and I love cars.
I inherited that from my father. I love reading the traffic up ahead and figuring out how fast you should be going. I love all the stimuli that comes from driving. And I love driving as many different kinds of vehicles as I can. I had my heavy-vehicle license when I was in Australia, and I’d like to get that again over here, so I could drive a semi and that sort of thing. I’m the guy that looks out the window of the plane at the airport at all those tug vehicles. I always imagine rockin’ up at a restaurant and throwing the keys to the valet guy from one of those – just the absurdity of it. That would be kind of fun.”