Story Behind the Song: Chely Wright, ‘Damn Liar’
Chely Wright's song "Damn Liar" was one of the most talked-about tunes off of her 2010 album Lifted Off the Ground, which was released in conjunction with her book, Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Singer. When Chely wrote the song, she was convinced that it was about an ex-girlfriend who broke her heart; however, she tells The Boot, she now realizes that she is the true subject of "Damn Liar."
Below, Wright shares the story behind "Damn Liar" in her own words.
I saw Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls. I'm a fan of hers, and she's a fan of mine. We were talking and she said, "Who did you write "Damn Liar" about?"
I had originally thought I wrote it about [my ex-partner]. What I had done is projected my fears and negativity about myself, and my disappointments, onto her. I had written the song about me.
Emily just smiled and said, "I do that all the time. Those are the ways those songs have evolved for me."
I know the day I wrote that song. I know the day I wrote each of those songs [on Lifted Off the Ground], because I wrote them all in my journal. I was journaling like a mad man: I'd write a page of my thoughts, and then I'd write a song. I had the foresight to date the song pages. I wrote "Damn Liar" [on] March 15.
I had a headache the day I wrote it. I got the the idea for that song talking to my best friend, Chuck. He counseled me day after day after day [before I came out as a lesbian]. When we were talking, I called [my ex-lover] a "damn liar." He said, "Go do what you do. Go write. Write a song called "Damn Liar.""
When I was writing "Damn Liar," I changed the tuning on my guitar; standard tuning wasn't suiting me. I like the droning sound that billows and billows throughout. A lot of people drop to low D, and I had raised D to E. When real guitar players see me do that, they cringe because [the string may] snap.
That came first, and then, I promise you, the words came right out of my head. I knew it would essentially come right out.
That night, I made a little tape recording of that song in my home studio. Then I had to get out of the house. I went to see some live music in Nashville. Before I left, I emailed the song to a few people, close confidants. By the time I came back, everyone I had sent it to emailed me: "Call me! Call me! Call me!"
This story was originally written by Nancy Dunham, and revised by Angela Stefano.
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