Story Behind the Song: Little Big Town, ‘Girl Crush’
Little Big Town's "Girl Crush," from the country quartet's 2014 Pain Killer album, stayed at the top of the charts for a record-breaking 13 weeks and has sold more than one million copies. Its a success made that much sweeter because of -- and a success at least partially propelled by -- the controversy surrounding the sexy single, with some radio stations allegedly refusing to play the song because of its perceived message. But for songwriters Liz Rose, Lori McKenna and Hillary Lindsey, controversy was the farthest thing from their minds when they quickly wrote "Girl Crush."
Lori McKenna: We write for three days at a time, and we write from morning until we fall asleep at night. 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: 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.
Hillary Lindsey: We were really fortunate the day that we wrote it. We wrote it really early in the morning. We were also writing that day with [Little Big Town's Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman]. And so we woke up that morning, wrote "Girl Crush" and then kinda were like, "Oh, that’s cool. We like that. We dig that." And then we put it on our iPhone and walked away from it, because they were coming over.
[Fairchild and Schlapman] showed up at Liz’s house really soon after we finished the song, and they asked Liz and all of us if we had anything that maybe we liked that we had been writing for the last couple of days. And Liz was like, "Well, we wrote something this morning if you want to hear it."
She played it for them, and instantly, they both just freaked out over the lyric, more so than we were feeling about the song, really, because we wrote it so quickly that I’m not sure that we had a lot of attachment to it when we wrote it.
They said, "Can we hold this?" and we were like, "Yes, please. Will you hold this?" and then we moved forward.
We wrote it just playing acoustic: I was just sitting there with an acoustic, and then Lori picked up her acoustic -- which, thank the dear Lord, because she plays a lot better than me -- and helped the process along. But once they got into the studio, it’s sort of out of our hands.
They took it to heights that we would have probably never dreamed of. If we had gone in and demoed it, it might have been a big mess. So I’m so glad they just heard the iPhone version of our work tape.
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