The Meaning Behind Kacey Musgraves’ Defiant Ode to Relaxation (and Maybe an Acid-Fueled Trip or Two), “Slow Burn”

When Kacey Musgraves got her first inklings of what would become the lyrics for “Slow Burn,” she was having what she has referred to as a “spiritual journey” while on LSD. She took the idea for the song to her collaborators, Daniel Tashian and Ian Fitchuk, who came up with a busy and elaborate production for the song that was meant to hammer home the profundity of Musgraves’ experience.

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She vetoed many of the overdubs her co-writers had come up with, wanting to keep the song simple. Musgraves knew what she was doing, as “Slow Burn”’s lyrics are more than sufficient to convey the experience she had while tripping on her front porch. So let’s get in a relaxed mood and settle in for an exploration of Musgraves’ ode to taking life at a leisurely pace.

Musgraves’ Trippy Epiphany

The song that eventually became the leadoff track for Musgraves’ 2018 album, Golden Hour, began with a simple thought. In an interview for the New York Times’ “Diary of a Song” series, Musgraves said the germ of the tune came when she thought to herself, “Man, I love a slow burn.” Once she convened with Tashian and Fitchuk and started working on the lyrics for the verses, Musgraves established at the outset of the song that this is how she has always been.

Born in a hurry, always late
Haven’t been early since ‘88

This opening couplet alludes both to her premature birth and her lifelong proclivity for taking things slowly. From there, Musgraves details some of the different ways in which she appreciates a slow approach.

Good in a glass, good on green
Good when you’re putting your hands all over me

Musgraves can add letting a song unfold to the list of things she likes to do slowly, as the four-plus minutes of “Slow Burn” contain just two verses, two choruses, a three-word bridge (Whatever feels good), and an outro. In the second verse, Musgraves deepens her introspection, thinking about how In Tennessee, the sun’s goin’ down / But in Beijing, they’re headin’ out to work. And her response to that realization is literally to stop and smell the proverbial roses.

You know the bar down the street don’t close for an hour
We should take a walk and look at all the flowers

“Slow Burn” is about more than Musgraves realizing she enjoys life more when she slows down. The chorus reveals another aspect of this preference when she sings, I’m gonna do it my way, it’ll be alright / If we burn it down and it takes all night / It’s a slow burn. When Musgraves wants to live life at a slower pace, she has to assert herself and do it her way. This is her way of acknowledging that taking things slow isn’t just something she enjoys—it’s something that requires her to make a conscious decision to reject the fast pace encouraged by our society.

About Musgraves’ Co-Songwriters

Daniel Tashian is the lead vocalist and guitarist for the Nashville-based band The Silver Seas. He has written or co-written songs for numerous other artists in addition to Musgraves, including Demi Lovato, Tim McGraw, Lee Ann Womack, Jessie James Decker, and Josh Turner. He also produced Decker’s On This Holiday album, among other recordings.

[RELATED: All the Songs on Kacey Musgraves’ Magical ‘Golden Hour’ Ranked]

Ian Fitchuk is a producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who has also co-written songs for Maren Morris, Amy Grant and Pink. He has also played on albums from Harry Styles, Shania Twain and Miranda Lambert. In addition to co-producing Golden Hour with Musgraves and Tashian and co-writing seven of the album’s 13 tracks, Fitchuk co-produced and co-wrote songs with Musgraves (as did Tashian) for her 2021 album, Star-Crossed.


“Slow Burn” peaked at No. 38 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, and it was certified Platinum. It is Musgraves’ third most-streamed song as a solo artist on Spotify, having received more than 140 million plays on the platform. Golden Hour went to No. 1 on Billboard’s Country and Folk charts and No. 4 on the Billboard 200, and it won Album of the Year and Best Country Album at the 2019 Grammy Awards.

Musgraves partnered with candlemaker Boy Smells to create a scented candle called “Slow Burn.” When the product launched in 2020, it initially sold out in a matter of hours and was eventually carried by the Nordstrom department store chain.

“Slow Burn” didn’t have the same crossover appeal as Golden Hour’s closer, “Rainbow,” which reached Billboard’s Adult Contemporary and Hot 100 charts, but the two songs together create a pair of beautiful bookends for the album. Thanks to Musgraves’ thoughtful and clever lyrics and the song’s dazzling production, none of her songs (so far) holds a candle to the brilliance of “Slow Burn.”

Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images for Americana Music Association

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