Keith Urban: Life Without Nicole Kidman Would Be Like a Game of Jenga

The singer credits his wife with keeping everything "balanced"

Photo: Courtesy Nancy Kruh

Is there another country artist with a better juggling act than Keith Urban?

Whether it’s performing, recording, appearing as a judge on American Idol, jetting off to visit wife Nicole Kidman on a movie set, or kicking back with “Nic” and the kids at their Nashville home, the guy somehow manages to get it all done.

“I have a lot of people who help me … starting with my wife, who is extraordinary at keeping everything sort of scheduled and balanced,” Urban, 47, said in an hour-long Q&A session at Country Radio Seminar in Nashville on Friday.

The key, he told the audience of several hundred listeners, is “being present.”

“Let’s get the cheesy quote out of the way, right?” Urban said. “The moment right now is a gift, and that’s why they call it the present. But it’s so true … The only thing that’s real is right now.”

The singer says he tries to live out that simple realization in every aspect of his life, whether it’s setting up a curtained-off area at meet-and-greets so he can have authentic one-on-one encounters with fans (the goal is to be “connected,” he says, “We all want to feel like we matter and that someone cares”) or demonstrating compassion for fragile egos on Idol.

Contestants obsess for “days and days and days of nothing but that one moment,” he says. “So for me to kind of backhand it seems really insane. When I find myself drifting a little bit I try to remember it’s everything to them. Everything.”

And clearly, “being present” also means putting his marriage first.

“Someone said one time, ‘If your marriage isn’t your priority, you’re not married,’ and I thought, for me that’s so true. So as long as I keep her as a priority, everything else sort of seems to work. And when I don’t keep it as a priority, it’s … Jenga,” he says.

For Urban, savoring each moment is also important because he knows how quickly success can fade – a point he shared as he recalled relishing the primo seats he and his Oscar-winning wife scored at the recent Academy Awards.

“We walked in and I said to Nic, ‘Are these our seats?’ And she said, ‘Yeah, I think we’re sitting right here.’ I’m like, Yeah!

Urban paused to consider a deeper meaning.

“It’s all fleeting – those moments where people like us get to sit on the front row. You don’t sit on the front row your whole career. You start back there. You ease your way to the front, and before you know it, you’re working your way back again. That’s the way it goes. So I don’t want to miss it while I’m on the front row, because it doesn’t last that long.”

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