Story Behind the Song: The Highwomen, ‘My Only Child’
One of the rawest, most intimate tracks on the Highwomen's debut album, "My Only Child," tells the story of being a parent to just one daughter, and the complex mixture of love and sadness that comes with that experience. Bandmate Natalie Hemby found inspiration for the track in her own "only child," after she began asking her mom for a baby brother or sister.
Read on to learn more about the story behind the song -- and how its two co-writers entered the writing process -- in Hemby's own words.
It's kind of funny, and it's kind of not, but I started this song because my kid kept asking me for a sister and a brother. I didn't want to explain to her about cobwebs and ovaries and things like that, so I was just like, "Well, you know, Mommy ... I don't know that that's really a possibility."
And she [thought], like, that the Easter Bunny would bring her one, and I thought it was really funny at first. But then I started going through all her stuff -- because when you have one child, you become a hoarder -- everything's the first and the last. So I started going through her things, and I got really emotional. I literally wrote these lines in the shower: "I'm sure you wish you had a brother who had blue eyes just like you."
Then I took the song idea to Miranda Lambert, who now has a stepchild but did not at the time, and I said, "Will you help me write this?" She wrote so many amazing lines, and I just sat there sobbing, like, "What the hell is wrong with you?! You don't even have kids!"
We didn't really finish it, because [I] was on copious amounts of white wine at that point, and just crying [my] eyes out. Then I got together with [Amanda] Shires, and we wrote. I played it for her, and she, too, started weeping, because she has an only child.
Anyway, it's sort of like therapy, and thank God for the Highwomen, because it landed on a really special album, and it's a special song to me.