Story Behind the Song: Gary Allan, ‘Life Ain’t Always Beautiful’
Gary Allan included "Life Ain't Always Beautiful," on his 2005 album Tough All Over; as a single, it peaked at No. 4 on the country charts and became Allen's ninth Top 10 hit. The song's beginning lines -- "Life ain't always beautiful / Sometimes it's just plain hard / Life can knock you down / It can break your heart" -- feel a bit despondent and hopeless ... but then, the tune's writers turned it into a song of redemption.
Below, Tommy Lee James -- who co write "Life Ain't Always Beautiful" with Cyndi Goodman (nee Thompson) -- shares the story behind the song with The Boot.
I had worked with [Cyndi] before: I co-produced a record, her first record, with Paul Worley. We had written quite a bit of songs together.
We were starting to write some songs for her second record. We got together one day, and honestly, I can’t remember whose title it was. It might have been hers ... I remember being really excited about that song.
At the time, my kids were little, and I was reading to my kids a lot, as parents do. And my favorite book at the time was this Dr. Seuss book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go. I love that book, and I was really into Dr. Seuss. And so, what I really wanted to do in that song was to write a child-like Dr. Seuss lyric -- you know, "Life ain’t always beautiful / Sometimes it’s plain hard / Life ain’t always beautiful" -- it’s very child-like.
So that’s what we did, basically: tried to write a Dr. Seuss lyric. My one concern about that whole song was, you had to set it up all negative, until you get to "Life ain’t always beautiful / But it’s a beautiful ride" at the very end of the chorus. Everything else is completely negative, but people see it as an uplifting song.
My kids went to Franklin High School [in Tennessee], and one of my daughters came home one day, and she’s like, "I was in the girls' bathroom in Franklin High School, and somebody wrote 'Life ain't always beautiful, but it's a beautiful ride' on the wall." I’m like, “That’s the nicest compliment I’ve ever had, to be immortalized in the girls' bathroom.”
I’m really proud of that song. I’ve never gotten tired of that song.