Lyrics Uncovered: Little Big Town, ‘Girl Crush’
Little Big Town's "Girl Crush" lyrics have propelled the group to new career heights, but ironically, one of its writers had to be talked into working on the song at all.
Lori McKenna, Liz Rose and Hillary Lindsey are frequent collaborators; they write together as the Love Junkies, and the song came about during one of their regularly scheduled co-writes. McKenna already had the idea for the title "Girl Crush," but not much else.
When she proposed the idea to Rose, she wasn't very interested in working on it.
"It was early in the morning," Rose tells Taste of Country with a laugh. "It sounded like it was gonna be hard to write. I was like, 'Naaaah. How are we gonna write that?' Lori said it twice, and I went, 'No, I don't know how we would do that and make it work,' before even thinking about it."
She changed her mind when McKenna pitched the title to Lindsey, who had slept later and was not privy to the earlier conversation.
"This really was one of those songs where Hillary just picked up a guitar and started singing it," McKenna recalls. "It really was one of those great moments where one person says something, and the other person just finishes the sentence, almost ... Hillary just sang the first four lines, just following the melody that came out of her mouth. And she said, 'You mean like that?' And Liz and I looked at each other and said, 'Yeah! Exactly like that!'"
"I don't know where in the world it came from," Lindsey says. "That's how songs happen sometimes. It just comes from the god in the corner. I don't know ... I just sat down, and the first verse kinda came out. Even after that, we didn't talk too much about it. It just kinda wrote itself."
The "Girl Crush" lyrics describe a woman's obsession with the woman who is in a relationship with the man she wants: "I wanna taste her lips / Yeah 'cause they taste like you / I wanna drown myself in a bottle of her perfume / I got a girl crush."
In the end, the "Girl Crush" lyrics took just a couple of hours to write, and they remained unchanged from the work tape to the finished recording. Little Big Town singers Kimberly Schlapman and Karen Fairchild were scheduled to co-write with the trio later that day, and when they played them their work tape from earlier, they were immediately interested in putting the song on hold.
We didn't talk too much about it. It just kinda wrote itself.
With such an unusual subject matter, as well as a 6/8 time signature, the song was a big risk to release to country radio. It overcame some initial controversy to become not only the biggest hit of LBT's career, but a song that shattered all existing country music records for the longest run at No. 1.
"Girl Crush" became a phenomenon, winning CMA awards for Single and Song of the Year, Grammys for Best Country Duo/Group Performance and Best Country Song and NSAI's Song of the Year award, which the songwriters say is the most important to them since it was voted on by their songwriting peers. It is nominated for Single and Song of the Year in the upcoming ACM Awards.
"The great part about it is, the three of us, we write a lot of songs together, and we support each other and believe in each other and love each other as friends," McKenna says. "It's been great for us as three pals that write songs together because we like to hang out together; it's been a great ride for us to go through this together. Especially with Little Big Town, because they're the nicest people in the world. We couldn't have asked for a better journey."
The success has been especially sweet for McKenna, she shares.
"I didn't have a Grammy," she says. "Liz and Hillary already had their Grammys for other songs. So for me, this is a little bit of a confidence changer. We love our jobs, and we feel so blessed to have them, but I think for me, you just wanna earn your keep and write songs that you can be proud of. So to finally get to a point where we've had such a ride with the song, it's like, 'Oh my god, maybe I am supposed to be doing this!' I've been trying to convince my family for about 15 years that I should be doing this."