The Meaning Behind the Song “Kerosene” by Miranda Lambert

Songs of Summer Barbecues, Sponsored by Jack Daniel’s

American Songwriter has partnered up with Jack Daniel’s across Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama to identify some favorite Songs of Summer Barbecues. During the series, American Songwriter will be taking a deeper dive into songs that have become as essential to barbecues as grills, good food, and friends. If you’re 21 and older, be sure to make Jack Daniel’s part of your next summer barbecue, and please remember to always drink responsibly!

Videos by American Songwriter

Miranda Lambert’s discography almost immediately comes to mind when one thinks of the country music landscape. Songs like “Mama’s Broken Heart,” “The House That Built Me,” “Bluebird,” and “Somethin’ Bad (with Carrie Underwood)” have endeared the artist to millions of listeners and made Lambert one of the most decorated female country artists to date. And speaking of female firepower, Lambert certainly brought some much-needed female star power to the genre.

But where did it all start for Lambert? In 2003, the singer/songwriter released her debut album Kerosene, and the album’s title track set Lambert on a path toward stardom. 

Diving further into Lambert’s story, we wondered, “What does ‘Kerosene’ mean? And do the lyrics actually include the story of a fatal lovers spat?” They just might. Find out below. 

The meaning behind the song lyrics

“Kerosene” is a revenge song and a murder ballad (allegedly, of course). It’s about the fallout after one lover had identified the cheating transgression of the other. 

Trade the truth in for a lie
Cheating really ain’t a crime
I’m giving up on love ’cause love’s given up on me, Lambert sings in the fourth verse.

The narrator of the song then takes revenge into her own hands by implying that she’s killed her former lover and placed the blame on the other woman.

Now I don’t hate the one who left
You can’t hate someone who’s dead
He’s out there holdin’ on to someone
I’m holding up my smokin’ gun

I’ll find somewhere to lay my blame
The day she changes her last name

Lambert also employs a unique songwriting stylistic choice for “Kerosene”: There’s no chorus. “Kerosene” is a song composed of eight verses. One line, however, does repeat itself at the end of every other verse. The line well I’m givin’ up on love ’cause loves given up on me is repeated five times in the song, accentuating the vengeful nature of this heartbreak.

Lambert’s take on the song

In a recent interview with CBS, Lambert reflected on her now decades-long career and the role that “Kerosene” played in it.

“[I]n general like, I came out with, like, guns blazing, ‘Kerosene,’ all this energy and this, like, feistiness,” she said. “I still have all of that, but I just don’t have to be as loud about it and do it as often.”

“Kerosene” certainly set the stage for Lambert, but no need to set it twice.

Photo courtesy of Kelleigh Bannen / Apple Music Country

Leave a Reply

Dry Cleaning Announce World Tour, Introduce Fans to Pet Tortoise ‘Gary Ashby’