Story Behind the Song: Dierks Bentley (feat. Elle King), ‘Different for Girls’
In September of 2016, Dierks Bentley earned his 15th No. 1 single with "Different for Girls," a duet with Elle King. The song, from Bentley's 2016 album, Black, was written by Shane McAnally and JT Harding. Featuring lines that include "It's different for girls when their hearts get broke / They can't tape it back together with a whiskey and Coke / They don't take someone home and act like it's nothing / They can't just switch it off every time they feel something," "Different for Girls" instantly resonated with the married father of three.
Below, McAnally, Harding and Bentley discuss "Different for Girls" and reveal how the writers convinced Bentley the song was for him.
JT Harding: The seed of the idea came from a conversation I was having with a girl. I couldn’t believe that she was going through a breakup and she was so together; she was like, "I can’t just let the whole world fall apart." I have another buddy, who I won’t mention, who literally broke up with someone and went out at night picking fights and went nuts.
Shane and I write a lot, and I knew he was on my calendar. He saves his best ideas for Miranda Lambert and Sam Hunt, so I knew I had to come in with a title. I barely had the seed and just the title, and I knew Shane would knock it out of the park. He came up with the best line in the song: “When the going gets tough, guys can just act tough;" that was the glue that brought it all together.
Shane McAnally: This song just felt like fireworks. When he said "Different for Girls," I couldn’t believe I had never heard that title. I think that both of us have been broken up with enough and been on both sides of relationships that it didn’t matter that it was written from a male or female point of view.
We certainly were just trying to look at it objectively. It’s not every girl that’s this way; it’s not every guy that’s this way. I think some people had a rub about that, about whether or not we were properly describing every female. Overall, it was supposed to be an anthem for women; it was supposed to be a tip of the hat to the fact that females are built in a way that they go towards emotion, that they wear their hearts on their sleeves. Guys are vulnerable, too, but a lot of times too afraid to show that, and so that was sort of the point, that girls are stronger that way, and just more willing to show that they hurt. I think that was really the point.
Dierks Bentley: Shane sent the song in a text message saying, "Hey, I really feel like this is you, and I don’t know where you are in your album, but I wrote this song, and there’s something really special about it" … There’s some writers in the town that get to know you … they’re listening to your music, thinking about maybe what you might go for next, will you take some deviations. I’m really grateful for friends like that in the songwriting community.
McAnally: When we wrote this song, my thought was, “This would be a really cool statement for Dierks, but I don’t know where his head is right now” … We sent it over to Dierks, and when Dierks texted me, it was a really heartfelt text, and it had a lot of passion in it, because he said, “I don’t know where this song will land, or how it will end up and where it will fit on the record, but I do know that I relate to it, especially having daughters.” It was something that moved me.
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