The Meaning Behind Emmy Russell’s Heartbreaking Ballad “Want You,” Debuted on Grandmother Loretta Lynn’s 92nd Birthday

I want you to want me like I want you / I want you to need me like I need you / If you’re gonna leave me, then cut me loose / I want you to want me sang Emmy Russell through her penetrating ballad, an original song she premiered on an April 14 episode of American Idol, on what would have been her grandmother, Loretta Lynn‘s 92nd birthday.

The performance was one of many Russell shared during season 22 of Idol while trying to keep her place in the competition. “What a birthday gift,” read a post on Loretta Lynn’s official Instagram along with a photo of Russell after she made it into the Top 20 on American Idol. “Emmy was born on Doo and Loretta’s anniversary and now we have this milestone on Loretta’s birthday! Loretta told all who would listen that Emmy had something special and now the world is seeing for themselves.”

Russell, who has been performing since she was a child, grew up on the road with her grandmother and mother. Patsy Lynn Russell was in a country duo The Lynns with her twin sister Peggy and she also produced her mother Loretta’s final four albums and wrote several songs with her before her death on October 4, 2022, at age 90.

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[RELATED: 3 Songs You Didn’t Know Patsy Lynn Russell Wrote With Mother Loretta Lynn]

Along with performing Lynn’s classic “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and other Idol picks throughout the competition, Russell also debuted some of her original songs, including “Skinny,” inspired by her struggle with an eating disorder, and “Want You.”

‘Cut Me Loose’

Standing in front of a blue screen of clouds, Russell, donned in a puffy-sleeved dress and cowboy boots channeled her grandmother while singing her song of a love that’s better off coming to an end.

Don’t want your empty words
your fake diamond dreams
The way you talk about forever
don’t think you know what that means

Don’t want a grand gesture
just be here with me
You and me, baby, yeah that’s all I need

I want you to want me like I want you
I want you to need me like I need you
If you’re going to leave me then cut me loose

I’m breaking your heart and you’re breaking mine
I say I need space, you say you need time
I don’t even know if we’re keeping score
All that I know is I love you more

“When I was 15, she [Loretta] passed me down her guitar at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville,” said Russell on the impact her grandmother had on her as an artist. Lynn told her “Only you’re the one that I feel is supposed to carry this” with the gifted guitar. “But at 15 you don’t know how to carry a weight that heavy, and so my process has been interesting,” added Russell. “My musical journey has been very interesting with learning how to carry it correctly rather than letting it crush me.”

Russell added, “Meemaw did give me this guitar, so there is something to that. She saw something in me and she’s got a lot of grandkids that sing, so there must be something there. I always write, I’ve always just been a creative human, and so maybe there is a legacy there that I can carry, but in a different way than what I thought. I thought I had to be just like her. I feel like I’m more like her than I was whenever I was trying to be like her.”

Photo: Catherine Powell / Getty Images for CMT

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