BLOG - SO WHAT MAKES IT A HIT?
“MAMA’S BROKEN HEART”
Written by: Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves
Here is one of my absolute favorite country songs of the last 10 years. Superbly written by Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally and Kacey Musgraves, Miranda Lambert made this gem her own on her 2011 release, “Four The Record.” It peaked at #2 on the US Country Billboard Singles chart in 2013.
“What has been will be again,
What has been done will be done again;
There is nothing new under the sun.”
The above quote is from King Solomon in the Old Testament: There is nothing new under the sun. Heartbreaks aren’t new – we’ve all had them. Songs about heartbreaks aren’t new – we’ve all heard them. Lots of them. So, what’s a songwriter to do with this well-known subject? How about putting a humorous spin on that heartbreak! Write from a perspective we’ve not yet heard. Approach the subject from a fresh and funny angle - and that’s exactly what Brandy, Shane and Kacey did in “Mama’s Broken Heart.”
The character is going crazy over her broken heart and even the neighbors are hearing about it, but Mama’s not having any of it. She wants her daughter to straighten up and fly right even in the midst of her heartbreak. The daughter’s response? “This Ain’t My Mama’s Broken Heart.” We hear about the heartbreak from the perspective of the broken-hearted AND her mother, all done with tongue in cheek humor. Now there’s a new way to write about a broken heart!
I think that every line in this song is perfect, smart and incredibly clever. Rather than writing a dissertation on how well this song is written, which would be easy to do because I love it so much, I’ll pick out a few choice lines and investigate them further.
The first line of any song sets the stage for what is following and should be strong enough to get the listener’s attention. This first line does that in spades! “I cut my bangs with some rusty kitchen scissors..” That’s different! I know right away that something interesting is going on with this character. Makes me want to listen further.
“I numbed the pain at the expense of my liver…”
A clever way of saying that she was drinking the pain away.
“Word got around to the barflies and the Baptists…”
The gossip about the crazy antics of the heart broken was so juicy that the bar-hoppers and the church goers both found out. Must have been good.
“Don’t matter how you feel, only matters how you look.”
That sums up Mom’s feeling about this pesky broken heart.
“Cause I raised you better gotta keep it together even when you fall apart…”
Mama is concerned about the family reputation and doesn’t want her daughter messing with it.
“Wish I could be just a little less dramatic
Like a Kennedy when Camelot went down in flames….”
The Kennedy’s were well-known for keeping a stiff upper-lip in the midst of tragedy. This character wishes she could do the same even though she obviously isn’t. Very smart comparison.
“Can’t get revenge and keep a spotless reputation…”
The broken hearted is obviously wanting to pay the piper, but can’t do it because of what Mama thinks.
I’m totally in love with everything about this bridge. It sums up the heart of the song with great humor. Here’s how Mom wants her daughter to deal with this broken heart of hers:
“Powder your nose, paint your toes
Line your lips and keep them closed (I LOVE that!)
Cross your legs, dot your I’s
And never let them see you cry.”
Every line in this song is original and clever. It’s a great study of how a song tells a story and paints a picture. This lyric and melody are a winning combination for creating a radio hit. Frank Liddell’s terrific record production and Miranda Lambert’s vocal performance turned this clever lyric and melody into a hit record.
MAMA'S BROKEN HEART (LYRICS)
I cut my bangs with some rusty kitchen scissors I screamed his name til the neighbors called the cops I numbed the pain at the expense of my liver I don't know what I did next all I know, I couldn't stop Word got around to the barflies & the baptists My mama's phone started ringin off the hook I can hear her now sayin she ain't gonna have it Don't matter how you feel, it only matters how you look Go & fix your make up, girl it's just a break up Run & hide your crazy & start actin like a lady Cause I raised you better, gotta keep it together Even when you fall apart But this ain't my mama's broken heart Wish I could be just a little less dramatic Like a kennedy when camelot went down in flames Leave it to me to be holdin the matches When the fire trucks show up & there's nobody else to blame Can't get revenge & keep a spotless reputation Sometimes revenge is a choice you gotta make My mama came from a softer generation Where you get a grip & bite your lip just to save a little face Go & fix your make up, girl it's just a break up Run & hide your crazy & start actin like a lady Cause I raised you better, gotta keep it together Even when you fall apart But this ain't my mama's broken heart Powder your nose, paint your toes Line your lips & keep em closed Cross your legs, dot your I's & never let em see you cry Go & fix your make up, girl it's just a break up Run & hide your crazy & start actin like a lady Cause I raised you better, gotta keep it together Even when you fall apart But this ain't my mama's broken heart
Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally and Kacey Musgraves
Congratulations to Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally and Kacey Musgraves for writing a fine song with “Mama’s Broken Heart.”