Little Big Town, ‘Girl Crush’ Songwriters Reflect on Their 2015 CMA Awards Wins
Little Big Town were major winners at Wednesday night's (Nov. 4) 2015 CMA Awards. The country quartet won Vocal Group of the Year and Single of the Year, the latter for "Girl Crush," while the tune's songwriters (Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna and Liz Rose) took home Song of the Year as well. Given that the song started a big controversy in country music, the recognition was all the more poignant.
"We knew when we first heard this song that it was incredibly special," LBT member Kimberly Schlapman told The Boot and other reporters backstage after the ceremony. "It literally took my breath; I gasped when I realized what this song was about. And these three women poured their heart and soul into an incredibly special, once-in-a-lifetime song, and the fact that we were able to cut it is an incredible gift. We’ll always be grateful to them for letting us do it."
Adds Karen Fairchild, "I think "Girl Crush" represents all of the songs on every artist’s record that they want to get to. We all love singing the "Pontoon"s and the "Day Drinking"s, but we want to get to the heart, the substance, on our records, and we don’t often get to do that. And tonight, I think it speaks volumes."
The platinum-selling single wasn't the product of lengthy writing sessions and careful rewrites, as is the story of many of the songs on the charts. Instead, the writers reveal, it was hastily penned, as part of a marathon three-day writing session.
"We write for three days at a time, and we write from morning until we fall asleep at night," McKenna explains. "This was Day Two of a three-day writing session. Liz and I had gotten up earlier in the morning one day, and I told Liz, 'We should write a song called "Girl Crush."' I had nothing other than a list of song titles for the day. Hillary came down, and she was sitting on Liz’s sofa, in her living room, playing an old Gibson, and we said, ‘We want to write a song called "Girl Crush."
"She can’t tell you this, but I will," McKenna adds. "She literally sang the first four lines of the song exactly as they are. So, she set the tone for the feel, and she said, ‘Is that what you mean?’ and we said, ‘Yes, that’s exactly what we mean. That’s what we’ve been working on for a long time.' It really just popped out of her, exactly; those four lines are the same."
Although some radio stations allegedly declined to play the song, the controversy ultimately propelled the tune up the charts.
"From my perspective, I feel like all of that was short-lived," Little Big Town's Jimi Westbrook acknowledges. "It was only for a minute, and then the voices, the positive voices, the people that loved it, started speaking out, and they became louder than the negative. Social media gives a voice to the whole anonymity behind the screen name. People take advantage of that. But it’s a small, small group of people.
"I think, if anything, we come away from this going ... if we love something, we need to speak out about those things," he concludes. "Sometimes we kind of hang back and don’t speak out about the things we love, and maybe that’s a lesson that we should just talk about the things that we do love, and when we hear something, let’s talk about that, and that’s what happened. To me, all of that was short-lived, and, quickly, the positive things started happening, and we’re really grateful for it."
The songwriters also felt the love, which they admit still blows them away.
"It was amazing," Rose says. "The hats showed up, and all these artists started wearing hats, and fellow songwriters. We had gotten a lot of texts from fellow songwriters when the song was recorded, saying, ‘We love this song so much.’ The support there was amazing. And then the whole community just kind of stepped up and backed our song. Your peers are so important, so it was really fun. We really appreciated it, and it meant a lot to us."
Download "Girl Crush" on iTunes.
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