Story Behind the Song: Reba McEntire, ‘Somebody’s Chelsea’
Lines from movies often inspire great country songs: Kenny Chesney‘s “You Had Me From Hello” was inspired by the film Jerry Maguire, and Trace Adkins‘ “The Rest of Mine” was an idea sparked by the movie Phenomenon, for example. Reba McEntire‘s 2011 single “Somebody’s Chelsea,” too, was inspired by a film, 2007’s P.S. I Love You.
McEntire co-wrote the tune with Liz Hengber and Will Robinson and included it on her 2010 All the Women I Am album; it became a Top 50 song on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart. Below, McEntire and Robinson explain how the song came to be.
McEntire: When I got the inspiration for that song, I was watching a movie, P.S. I Love You [with] Harry Connick Jr. [and] Hillary Swank. And they’re sitting at the booth in the cafe, and she’s saying how much she loved her husband who passed on. I don’t know his name in the movie; it could’ve been Frank or something.
And Harry Connick Jr.’s like, “What did I do? What’s wrong? How come you won’t love me?” “Well, my husband was this, he was that. He was just so good …” And Harry Connick Jr. gets up and starts to walk out, and she goes, “Where you going?”
He said, “I want to be somebody’s Frank. I’m going to go find that person.” I’m like, “What a great idea for a song.”
Robinson: She got the idea from that movie and had approached Liz with the idea, and Liz emailed her back and said, “Why don’t we bring Will in on this?” I’ve written a few things for Reba, and one was a single, “I Know How He Feels,” a few years ago. And so she said, “Sure.”
The trick was finding the right direction, and once we got the direction in, the melody came at 5AM. I woke up with the melody in my head and ran downstairs and put it down, the basic part of it. Usually when I do that and then I go back to bed and wake up a few hours later and then listen to it, it’s usually awful. But every now and then, it will hold up even better than I thought, because I’m usually half asleep. It seemed to fit the mood, and I just kind of went from there.
I thought it was such a clever and unusual idea. I’d never heard it like that before. I think the story was a bit different in the movie. It was a younger girl whose husband had died suddenly, so we decided to make it an older man who had been married about 60 years and lost the love of his life. And the singer’s thinking, “I hope somebody loves me like that.”
We got chills when we started thinking that this could really be a good song, if we write it right. It was a challenge to write it right because it’s an unusual title … that’s one reason I liked it so much is that the title intrigued me. Luckily, we were able to get the song at the same level as the title.
Reba came up with the name Chelsea. It’s a relative of hers, and she was attached to it. I thought, “That’s an unusual name,” which I like, but I started thinking, “How are we going to rhyme it?” But if you sing Chelsea, an “E” rhyme worked out perfectly to rhyme with Chelsea. At first I was thinking, “How do you rhyme Elsea?” [Laughs] You go through all of those things when you’re thinking, “How are we going to write this?” But it made it all the more challenging trying to keep that name. And now everywhere I go, I seem to hear that name Chelsea. It’s a beautiful name.
This story was originally written by Donna Hughes, and revised by Angela Stefano.
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