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  • In this deceivingly "simple" acoustic song, the songwriters Randy and Maia Sharp tell the story of "this character that had made the wrong call, that had taken a life road that he now couldn't help but ponder what it would be like had he chosen the other way, had he made it home, had he had the nerve to tell all of his friends and all of the people talking and whispering in his ear to leave him alone, that he was gonna listen to his heart." But, Randy says, "We didn't do the back-story, which I kind of liked that people could plug in their own scenario; maybe the other person was the wrong color, or the wrong gender, or the wrong whatever. But people essentially pressured him, he gave into it – or her, however you're hearing the story – to abandon what his heart was telling him. So here he is years later thinking, I really screwed up. I had a chance at it and I chose to be safe and careful. And I blew it."

    It's the music telling the emotional story in this song. Music that sounds simple, but chordally, "if you tear it apart, there's some real kind of odd harmonic structure to it," says Randy. "We were getting off on that part of it and the kind of harmonies we could build just in the melodic structure, which was still forming. And the story – the mood of the music suggested the story. There's melancholy in that music, there is regret in that music. So as we talk, as we formulated it, Maia and I looked around quite a few get-togethers to find what matched that emotion, what story are we matching? And that's what came out of it, in a basic form first. And then it sort of evolved and shifted to allow for the story line as it evolved and shifted. A lot of times, especially when I write a bit of music and a bit of lyric, sort of kick it off, and then both of them mold to each other as the process carries on."

    "We weren't writing that for the Dixie Chicks, we weren't writing for anyone. In fact, there was nothing on the radio that suggested that was a smart thing to write right now, because it was basically very acoustic and very simple, and no one even knew the Dixie Chicks were going to do that acoustic record. So we were really just writing selfishly."
  • The Dixie Chicks' version of this song is practically identical to the demo, something that doesn't happen very often in the Nashville songwriting scene; there are almost always re-writes, additions, and songwriters having to tweak the songs to fit the artists' styles.
  • James Taylor performed this song on an episode of Crossroads with the Dixie Chicks. On hearing it, Randy says, "I was real pleased to hear him singing one of my songs. It was way cool."
  • Having written with any number of talented songwriters in the industry - in just about every genre - perhaps Randy's favorite co-writer is his daughter, Maia. Since they've been working together and writing together her whole life, Randy says, "there's a lot of understood common information, where if I'm with another writer, especially one I haven't worked with very often, it's kind of a delicate thing. It's like being on a date with somebody; you don't want to push too hard, or be too submissive, or don't know yet politically or where their sensibilities are as far as what kind of music they like, so it's a discovery thing for you to find out who you're working with a lot."

    "With Maia, we know each other, and we know our tastes. A lot of stuff is conveyed just with a look. It's much more direct and clear when her and I work. And also there's no need to be careful. If I throw out an idea and she thinks it's lame, she'll say so. And vice versa. And you don't have to dance around it, because we both totally respect each other's talent. There's no ego to massage. It's just like, 'No, it's not gonna work. What about this?' Whereas with somebody else you have to be much more delicate because you don't know them well enough to know that they're comfortable with that kind of communication. And we are, because we know each other so well."

    Writing about deep romantic feelings is easier, as well, since characters can be created and the emotions written about in third person. And Randy says he tends to write in third person, anyway, even if he is borrowing from his own experiences to contribute. "I'm still talking about, well, here's the singer, he walks into the room, or she walks into the room, and this happens. It's easy to talk about it once-removed, so that you're not trying to tell a personal real-life story. And that also backs you up so that in your own mind you're opened up to include other people's stories and variations on the story. If you try to hold to your own story too closely you get really limited where the song can go. I almost always talk that way when I'm writing, so that's not really an issue with Maia." (Read more in our interview with Randy Sharp.)


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