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Story Behind Carrie Underwood’s “Wasted”

Story Behind Carrie Underwood’s “Wasted”

How do songs get started? Where did the song idea come from?

How do co-writers end up connecting on an idea and then writing it?

Understanding the song idea and how it relates to the hook, the point of view and the scenes (or verses) is a great way to make your own songs stronger.

Let’s take a look at Carrie Underwood’s “Wasted” written by Marv Green (“Consider Me Gone,” “Creepin'”), Hillary Lindsey (“Jesus Take the Wheel,” “Girl Crush,” “Two Black Cadillacs”) and Troy Verges (“Wanted,” “Day Drinking,” “Shotgun Rider”).

Note the slick rhyme pattern here too. I love how the chorus uses an internal rhyme at the end of the first line and then is a run-on into the second line to keep the chorus pace moving. Nice!

It also uses a different rhyme when it becomes an extended chorus after the second verse, not rhyming with “wasted.” But – you can’t tell because the internal rhyme at the end of the line (wishing/missing) sounds right to the ear. Double Nice!


Song Idea
“A great song idea utilizes an interesting hook line or title and incorporates it into a fully realized scenario that reveals in careful, logical stages the true goal or intent of the writer.” – Jimmy Webb

“Wasted” can have a more mature meaning – i.e., beyond just being drunk.  Years of your life can be wasted if you make bad choices or fail to act to change it.

Main characters are a woman in the first verse, a man in the second.

The woman is leaving someone, stressing the alternative meaning first, which helps set up the song idea. Verse 2 focuses on a man giving up drinking “gotta face it” – a nice touch to bring in the double meaning idea, but still make the song sound like a linear story line.


A single statement of your central idea

In this instance, the hook is the same as the title: Wasted


Point Of View
Who’s telling the story?

POV = Third person – “she” in V1, “he” in V2


Scenes (Verses)
How does the story unfold?


The verses in this song aren’t tied together in a linear story, and are very separate scenes and characters used to establish the two meanings of the word with two different characters.  The bridge summarizes both of the first two verses with each character’s outcomes representing a line of the two line bridge.


Use the internal rhyming device in a chorus of your own song.



Story Behind The Song


From an interview with The Boot

Marv Green: Sometimes a song starts with a melody, sometimes with an emotion … but this song really just started with throwing out that title, “Wasted.”  (SC Tip: keep interesting words in your hook book)

I liked the different meanings of wasted … like, obviously, drinking too much alcohol. But I also liked the idea of using wasted with time … wasting too much of your life.

Troy started playing a few of those verse chords and started to do the groove of the song. And Hillary sang that whole first line: “Standing at the back door, she tried to make it fast, one tear hit the hardwood …”


Hillary Lindsey:  I do remember having a clear visual of it though. When I said it, I was literally seeing a tear hit the floor. Troy has these throw rugs on top of hardwood floors at his house, and I was actually seeing glass shatter, in my head. Then Marv said that line, “Pouring teardrops back into a cloud,” I just freaked out over that line.


Troy Verges: Marv and I were just jamming around a little bit. I wasn’t thinking of anything particular, lyrically. I was just trying to find something that felt good. Hillary just started singing that first line.

The story took off from there. We wrote the first verse, then tried to decide whether to write the whole song about her story or go on to a new story. We ultimately decided to change gears and come over to a new story for the second verse.


Green:  There’s a story where these two people could be connected — the woman in the first verse and the guy in the second verse. But in my mind, it was open as to whether they knew each other or didn’t know each other. Maybe these two characters are completely separate, and they’re just tied together in a song.


Verges:  In my mind, they didn’t know each other at all; they were separate stories. But people have taken it as both people related. I love that about songs, that different people can take different things from them.


Lindsey:  In my mind, they were always separate. I was just really into the moment, into the characters, when we were writing.


Green: It was a great co-write … it really felt like we all lyrically and melodically contributed.


“Wasted” Lyrics


Standing at the back door, she tried to make it fast.      [A]
One tear hit the hard wood – it fell like broken glass.    [A]
She said sometimes love slips away, and you just can’t get it back –    [A]
Let’s face it.   [B]

For one split second she almost turned around,   [C]
But that would be like pouring rain drops – back into a cloud.   [C]
So she took another step and said, “I see the way out –   [C]
And I’m gonna take it.   [B]


I don’t wanna spend my life jaded, waiting   [B/B]
To wake up one day and find   [D]
That I let all these years go by –   [D]
Wasted.   [B]


Another glass of whiskey but it still don’t kill the pain,   [E]
So he stumbles to the sink and pours it down the drain.   [E]
He said it’s time to be a man and stop living for yesterday –   [E]
Gotta face it.   [B]


‘Cause I don’t wanna spend my life jaded, waiting   [B/B]
To wake up one day and find   [D]
That I let all these years go by –  [D]
Wasted.   [B]
Oh, I don’t wanna keep on wishing, missing   [F/F]
The still of the morning, the color of the night.   [D]
I ain’t spending no more time –  [D]
Wasted.   [B]


She kept drivin’ along till the moon and the sun were floating side-by-side.    [D]
He looked in the mirror and his eyes were clear for the first time in a while.   [D]


Oh, I don’t wanna spend my life jaded, waiting   [B/B]
To wake up one day and find   [D]
That I let all these years go by   [D]
Wasted.   [B]
Oh, I don’t wanna keep on wishing, missing   [F/F]
The still of the morning, the color of the night   [D]
I ain’t spending no more time   [D]
Wasted.   [B]


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