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Story Behind the Song: LeAnn Rimes, ‘Crazy Women’

In December of 2010, LeAnn Rimes released “Crazy Women” as the second single from her Lady and Gentlemen album. Written by Jessie Jo Dillon, Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally, the song became a Top 40 country hit for Rimes (No. 40), and Clark later recorded the song for her own 12 Stories album.

Below, Dillon and Clark talk with The Boot about how “Crazy Women” came to be.

Brandy Clark: There was a movie on Lifetime about the Texas cheerleader murder thing. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but there’s this mom who is so jealous because this other girl has made the cheerleading team, but she wants it to be her daughter, so she hires a hitman who’s, like, a brother-in-law or something. So the brother-in-law’s wife knows that something is going on, but she thinks he’s having an affair with this other woman. [When she tells him this theory, the brother-in-law] was like, “You crazy woman!” Then she gets up in his face and says, “Crazy women are made by crazy men!” I thought that would make such a good song.

I told it to Jessie. We brought it up to another co-writer who was a woman, because I was so sure we needed to write this with a woman, [but] the girl we brought it up to just didn’t bite onto it that day. So Jessie and I were writing with Shane, and we were kicking around ideas. I brought up the “Crazy Women” thing; I told him that Jessie and I were working on this idea of “crazy women are made by crazy men.” Shane was just like, “Yeah!”

We started getting this little groove, and Jessie said that first line: “Who’d-a guessed that Aquanet could start a fire with a single cigarette.” Then it was just, boom!

Jessie Jo Dillon: It was funny because at the time that we were writing it, I had been watching Mad Men. There’s this woman on there, Betty Draper, who is just the perfect wife: She’s beautiful, always poised … There’s this scene where, one day, she’s sitting at the kitchen table with dishes everywhere, and she’s smoking. She’s just had it; earlier, the neighbor had yelled at her kid about the dog or something. She goes outside with this BB gun; she starts cocking the gun and shooting. The neighbor had birds or something, and she’s got a cigarette in her mouth with this perfect Grace Kelley look. When we were writing that song, the entire time, I was thinking of Betty Draper, and what would Betty Draper do if this guy just completely crossed the line?

Clark: I know a lot of different people — men and women — where, everybody they’ve ever dated is always crazy, but they are the common denominator. We all had those kind of people in our heads.

Dillon: The kind of people we don’t know why we pick them. I know more guys than not who claim that: They always go, “She’s just crazy! I don’t know what the problem is.”

I love the song because I think there’s a crazy woman in all of us; it’s just a matter of when she comes out and how far it takes to push her there. Some women are crazy all of the time, but all of us have a little bit of that in there.

It took us a couple of hours to write it. We were over at Shane’s house, and we were hanging out a little bit afterward. We had put the song down and quit talking about it. All of a sudden, it was like, wait a minute, that song is really great.

Clark: It was a brain-twister. We went down a few roads where we had to reverse.

Dillon: The work-tape got pitched to LeAnn’s producer, Darrell Brown.

Clark: LeAnn liked it right away and wanted to cut it.

Dillon: Which was super cool, because I just love her voice; I was excited that she was coming back again with new music. You can tell that she loves the song, which is always cool to know that some label person wasn’t pushing it on her or something …

Clark: I think this is one of the best songs that I’d ever written; I think it is for all three of us. Right after we wrote it, I played “Crazy Women” at the Bluebird Cafe during a songwriters’ night; I wasn’t even planning on playing it, but, for some reason, I decided to play it. When I got to the chorus, women were pumping their fists, and men were loving it, until I got to the part of “crazy women are made by crazy men.” Women stood up and were screaming! It was just nuts. I always felt the song was great, but that’s when I knew it could be a big hit for someone.

Dillon: I know that I can be a crazy woman. I don’t know about blowing up a car, but maybe on a real bad day! [Laughs]

Clark: Most women in prison … if you found out why they were in prison, a lot of them could just sing that song!

This story was originally written by Alanna Conaway, and revised by Angela Stefano.

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