4 Songs You Didn’t Know Kacey Musgraves Wrote For Other Artists

Kacey Musgraves is known for being one of modern country music’s brightest stars, but she didn’t always have her heart set on being an artist. In fact, she told Reese Witherspoon in a 2018 episode of her online series, Shine on With Reese, that she originally moved to Nashville with the intent of being a songwriter.

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“I was a songwriter first before being an artist so about a year after being in town was when I got to write for a job and then I wrote for three years every single day with different people,” Musgraves explained. “It is very intimidating but also because it’s so intimidating and because there are so many people that are in line wanting to do what you want to do, you have no excuse not to be unique and as good as you can be.”

With a desire to be different at the forefront of her creative process, Musgraves has gone on to release five critically acclaimed studio albums, including the transcendental Golden Hour, which earned her Album of the Year at the 2019 Grammy Awards. But before she was a Grammy darling, she spent her early days in Nashville in the writing room penning songs for other artists. Below, we explore four songs Musgraves wrote for other artists.

1.) “Mama’s Broken Heart” —Miranda Lambert

Written by Kacey Musgraves, Shane McAnally, and Brandy Clark

Lambert turned this into a big hit in 2013, but this song about a woman who loses all control in the event of a breakup while faced with the pressure of maintaining “lady-like” composure in the aftermath came from the imagination of Musgraves, Shane McAnally, and Brandy Clark.

A video of Musgraves recording a demo in the studio has surfaced online and features Musgraves’ intriguing voice, acoustic guitars, and hand claps. Lambert and Musgraves’ connection goes back to their roots in Texas where they used to write together long before they were famous. Lambert ended up hearing the demo for “Mama’s Broken Heart” and desperately wanted to cut it—so much so that she approached Musgraves about it at her own wedding to then-husband Blake Shelton.

“Her sister actually shot some pictures at mine and Blake’s wedding, and she was there, too,” Lambert recalled to The Boot about approaching Musgraves for the song. “At our rehearsal dinner, I went over and asked her, ‘are you gonna cut this song or can I have it?’ And she was like, ‘I’ll think about it for a couple of days…’ [Kacey] e-mailed me and said, ‘you can have it, if I can sing harmony.’ So that’s her singing the harmonies on it.” The song peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart and has been certified platinum.

2.) “Undermine”Hayden Panettiere & Charles Esten (Nashville)

Written by Kacey Musgraves and Trent Dabbs

In addition to albums and demo tapes, Musgraves’ work has also made it to the small screen. In the second episode of the first season of the hit ABC-turned-CMT show, Nashville, Panettiere’s character Juliette Barnes, and Esten’s Deacon Claybourne are seen writing and singing this song acoustically in the back of a truck bed by a river. It’s all talk, talk, talk/Talkin’ in the wind/It only slows you down/If you start listenin’/And it’s a whole lot harder to shine/Than undermine, they harmonize. Musgraves wrote “Undermine” with Trent Dabbs, their version not straying too much from what appeared on screen.

3.) “When You Love a Sinner”—Martina McBride

Written by Kacey Musgraves, Jay Clementi, and Chip Boyd

Two years shy of releasing her debut album, Same Trailer Different Park, the Golden, Texas native was still navigating Nashville behind the scenes as a songwriter. In 2011, she appeared as a writer on McBride’s album, Eleven, on the deep cut, “When You Love a Sinner.”

Written with Jay Clementi and Chip Boyd on a boat on Percy Priest Lake in Nashville a few years prior to its release, “Sinner” centers around the topic of what it’s like to love someone experiencing alcoholism.

And I’ve been goin’ under/And now I understand/That you can’t tread water/With a drownin’ man/I love a sinner, McBride sings with her powerhouse voice. “It’s mind-blowing for me to even say that because I grew up listening to her,” Musgraves said in a 2011 interview with East Texas radio station KNUE about McBride recording the song. “I got the chance to sing it with her…and it was crazy. Her voice is amazing, she makes anything sound great. So it’s a complete honor.”

4.) “That’s Just Me” — Deana Carter

Written by Kacey Musgraves and Deana Carter

Just as the dawn was breaking on Musgraves’ solo career in 2013, she also had two cuts on Carter’s seventh studio album, Southern Way of Life, with “That’s Just Me” and “I Don’t Want To.” The two singers got connected through the publishing company Warner Chappell, Carter telling American Songwriter in 2014 that the first song they wrote, “That’s Just Me,” was melodically inspired by Dolly Parton.

“When I sat with her and watched how she played guitar—she had such open tunings and cool ideas— I was like, ‘I used to be that way. I used to just not worry about it and just create,'” Carter raved of Musgraves. “It was so refreshing to be with her and do that. I’m so proud of her, it’s so great.”

Photo by Lorne Thomson/Redferns

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