Sarah Ryder was eight years old when she first heard Tim Mcgraw sing “Where The Green Grass Grows” on her small-town Pennsylvania country radio station. Captivated by the sweet sound, she didn’t turn the dial for the rest of the day.
“I was hooked,” she tells American Songwriter. “From there I really began paying attention to country music. I started attempting to write a bit after that. I went and saw George Strait a few years later and he sat in a chair with just a guitar and sang ‘Amarillo By Morning’. The whole stadium was quiet, united for just a few moments over a song. I knew right then I seriously wanted to create music that so many can relate to and feel understood by.”
Since that moment, Ryder has dedicated her songwriting craft to resonate song stories that reveal the most intimate pieces of her personal life to the audience, while leaving space for them to find pieces of their own story in hers. Ryder is admittedly an old soul. Influenced by her favorite artists from the ‘70s through the ‘90s, the artist exhibits wisdom well beyond her years.
Her latest single, “Get Back” peels back personal layers of her love life for the sake of creating community in her heartache. “‘Get Back’ is about a girl who has changed for someone and looks in the mirror wanting to get to the place in her heart and soul where she is her truest self unashamed again,” Ryder says. “She has gotten off track by trying to please a man who doesn’t really see and love her well. Nothing feels better than being accepted by people around you as your authentic self and sometimes that unfortunately means removing, in this, a man who simply does not respect her.
Lyrically, the song is a deeply personal track steeped in her own experience. Ryder admits the song is about her marriage that unraveled in 2019. Yet, her inviting vulnerability allows the message to transcend her own story to meet others where they are in their heartbreak journey. “We had separated and this song just rolled off my tongue immediately after,” says Ryder. “I was emotional knowing I was in a place that had gotten so far from where I should be, so this song was meant to be a pep talk to myself at first—I hope it can be a pep talk to others as well.”
The message seems simple to her now on the feel-good side of splitting up, but it was not clear in the murk of her marriage at the time. Her sentiment is poignantly portrayed in the line: can’t build a happy home with only sticks and stones / and a man who only dims your light.
“I truly believe that we should be strong on our own two feet. I don’t think that any friendship or relationship should change the bright light within us at all,” says Ryder. “We don’t have to put up with being mistreated ever, and shouldn’t. It should not be that hard. Yes, relationships of all kinds take work, but they should be built on true love, respect, and boundaries which in the end, should not be something that breaks your heart. You should never change who you are for another person.”
Listen to Sarah Ryder’s new single, “Get Back,” below.