Behind the Song: Miranda Lambert’s ‘Mama’s Broken Heart’
By Annie Reuter
When Kacey Musgraves, Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally sat down to write a song together, initially all they had was a title in mind. But as Clark and Musgraves each explained to Radio.com (in separate interviews), that session resulted in a song that became a No. 1 hit and a three-time 2014 ACM Award nominee (Song of the Year, Single Record of the Year, Video of the Year) for Miranda Lambert.
“I can’t even explain it, when you have a collaboration like Shane, Kacey and myself, it just works,” Clark told Radio.com. “It’s like a good date. You just meet some people that it clicks with, and it shouldn’t, and then there other other people it doesn’t click with, and you think it would.”
Clark said that McAnally came into the session with an idea to write a song called “Ain’t Your Mama’s” something, like “Ain’t Your Mama’s Saturday Night,” she explained.
“I always love when people say that, so I gravitated to that, and I think that’s probably why he saved it for a day when I was in the room,” Clark recalled. “His sister was going through this awful breakup, and his mom didn’t like the way she was dealing with it, so he was telling us that story that day. Somebody, I don’t even remember who said, ‘Well maybe it could be that, ‘Ain’t Your Mama’s Broken Heart.’ I remember for a while we all thought maybe that was a little too plain of an idea, but we wrote it.”
The song appeared on Lambert’s 2011 release Four the Record. But the form it was in initially was much simpler than what fans heard on the radio in January of 2013, when it was released as a single. As to how it got to that point, Clark further explained how Musgraves transformed the song after their writing session together.
“That night, Kacey went home and put another guitar on it and some hand claps and did some really cool things, and sent it to us, and it was like a different song. It was like, ‘Wow. This is really special.’ And that’s what Miranda heard — or her A&R person heard that. Then Miranda wanted to cut it, and she and Kacey made a deal. Kacey sang on it, and Miranda recorded it. And the rest is history.”
Musgraves told Radio.com that, to her, the song is about the generational differences between women back in the day and now. She also described how it has special meaning to her.
“I feel like women in my grandmother’s generation were expected to put on a pretty face, and have dinner on the table, and not really show their crazy sides too much,” she said. “Now, I feel like it’s a little bit different. Sometimes you just have to let it out, or it’ll just be bad news for everyone. I can relate to the song in that way.”
“As a songwriter, having a No. 1 with another artist is a big moment for me,” Musgraves added, “because some of the people I respect the most have had cuts with other artists before they even had their own thing going on. The fact that I can have my feet in both worlds means a lot to me.”
The 49th ACM Awards air Sunday, April 6 at 8p ET/PT on CBS.