Back by popular demand, I’ll be showcasing each track from my newest album, Broken Heart, in a “behind the song” blog series. I hope some listeners find it interesting or helpful. “Broken Heart” is the first and title track. For convenience, the lyrics and YouTube & Spotify streams are at the bottom of this post.
This was definitely the one that I was proud of right off the bat. It’s simple in a lot of ways because it doesn’t involve too many different lyrics or chords, but I felt like I did more than usual to make it interesting and varied in structure, if that makes sense. With a full production though, it could probably be a great teen pop song.
I actually wrote this during a week when I had – no lie – listened to the pop charts for inspiration. I actually felt like I was channeling some modern teen pop artist. I envisioned it as one of those all-lowercase titles — which I ultimately wasn’t cool enough to pull off — and my inspiration started with the first line, “A broken heart is not that deep, I’ve been living with one for years.”
Out of the hundreds of songs I’ve written in the past few years, there are only a handful that I got so excited about that I not only doubled down and finished them in a short time, but also that I felt like they were completely finished, a completely perfect representation of what I’d intended, when I was done. This was one of them. I basically wrote the lyrics and the melody together in perfect synchrony (a rarity for me as I often write at least one verse of lyrics before writing the melody) a little bit at a time as the inspiration came to me. I finished the first verse, and then I wrote a second verse to match it. I wrote the pre-chorus and chorus kind of parts that repeat with slight adjustments to create an interesting structure. Every line I wrote, I felt like the lyric and melody together were so emotionally intense I could feel it in my gut. It was such a spot-on representation of what a broken heart feels like to me. I don’t know if I will make anyone else feel that same pang, but if I can only make myself feel it, that still means something to me!
The “but I’m lying, I really am, but I’m lying, I’m really not” part kind of pokes fun at the idea that you can’t really be too deeply hurt over “just a crush.” And it’s kind of playing with the question of what it means to be okay, hence the “I eat, I sleep, and I dream.” If you’re okay enough to eat and sleep, then aren’t you fine? Especially with a view to the old cliché of “I’m so in love that I can’t eat and I can’t sleep.” But of course you can still be deeply disturbed on the inside without being so non-functional that you can’t eat or sleep.
On the whole I think it is what it is, it’s an overdramatic yet self-aware unrequited love song. It’s not pretending to be anything more or less.
I added vocal doubling to this song for the first time, and I think it works quite well along with the harmonies that, for me, seem to give it a dreamy feeling. The doubling made me feel like Tegan and Sara! I’ll never have a twin, but at least I can clone my own voice and sound like I do!
A broken heart is not that deep
I’ve been living with one for years
But still when you rub at that scar
I flinch so hard this speech seems insincere
And I’ll admit I’m disappointed
That, I could never deny
Ooh, my heart is breaking
But hearts are broken all the time
I know it seems like I’m not okay
When I’ve got no trouble telling you I am
But I’m lying, I’m really not
But I’m lying, I really am
Because you’re with her, living your best life
And I’m all right
Because I eat, I sleep, and I dream
I get by just fine
A broken heart is not that deep
I’ve been living with one for most of my life
But still, when you walk by with her
It cuts like a goddamn knife
And if I ever said that I loved you
That wasn’t something I ever meant to say
Ooh, who can say if it was true?
You never listened anyway