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“Mama’s Broken Heart” (I)

“Mama’s Broken Heart” (I)

Three terrific songwriters: Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally and Kacey Musgraves took an age-old story line (mother / daughter “you listen here little missy! Act like a lady!”) and found a unique way to tell the daughter’s story of rebellion.

Miranda Lambert’s vocal delivery brings a depth of character to the song that amplifies the imagery, and the video is just “crazy” done well. Makes you wonder if she’ll be playing the Dolly Parton role in the remake of Nine To Five.

 

But enough about the singer – what great lyrics and song craft!

 

What Makes It Work?

SONG STATS

Genre:  Country

Recorded:  2011

Released: 2013

Time: 2:57

Word Count: 331

Words/Min:  128.8

BPM: 112

Key:  E minor

Structure:

V / V / CH / V / V / CH / BRD / CH

The key drivers of the song’s success are elements that create ongoing interest:

  • Unique first line
  • Dead-on point of view selected
  • Strong end rhymes with no repeated rhymes
  • Exceptional imagery
  • Clever use of internal rhyme
  • Diverse melody line across chords

Let’s get into the detail of the above. You can download the worksheet to see my thoughts as I was listening.

 

Song Structure & Chords

 

The structure chosen helps move the song forward at a pretty zippy pace, which goes great with the whole amplification of the “I’m going to act out and go nuts if I want to!” theme running through the song.

The combination of the chord structure and the line structure help create a tension after the first and third verses, allowing the song to go to a next verse before the chorus and building the drama of the song.

Notice how the last line of each verse shifts to 14 syllables | 3 phrases from the 12 syllables | 2 phrases structure of the prior lines. This extension allows for the Am chord to land on the last word, stopping the lyric, setting up first the tension, then the launch to the chorus.

Download A Completed

Song Analysis Worksheet

of “Mama’s Broken Heart” Now!

This is a great example of a very clever structural device leveraged to: (1) build the emotion in the song, and (2) create a natural sounding pause prior to the “big moment” of the chorus, managing expectations of the listener and keeping their interest for the pay-off moment.

Amazingly, this is a TWO CHORD SONG!

Creating such a simple chord structure means the lyric meter and rhyme scheme has to drive the song forward, while the melody has to be interesting, dynamic, and clever enough to differentiate the verses from the chorus and bridge.

We’ll talk about those in “Mama’s Broken Heart” Part II!

 

Miranda Lambert: Mama’s Broken Heart

 

 

“Mama’s Broken Heart” Lyrics

VERSE
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.
Don’t know what I did next, all I know I couldn’t stop.

VERSE
Word got around to the barflies and the baptists.
My mama’s phone started ringin’ off the hook.
I can hear her sayin’ she ain’t gonna have it.
Don’t matter how you feel, it only matters how you look.

CHORUS
Go and fix your make up. Girl, it’s just a break up,
Run and hide your crazy and 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.

VERSE
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 and there’s nobody else to blame.

VERSE
Can’t get revenge and keep a spotless reputation.
Sometimes revenge is a choice you gotta make.
My mama came from a softer generation,
Where you get a grip and bite your lip just to save a little face.

CHORUS
Go and fix your make up. Girl, it’s just a break up,
Run and hide your crazy and 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.

BRIDGE
Powder your nose, paint your toes,line your lips and keep ’em closed.
Cross your legs, dot your eyes,and never let ’em see you cry.

CHORUS
Go and fix your make up. Girl, it’s just a break up,
Run and hide your crazy and 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.

 

Additional Songwriting Links

 

 





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