Videos by American Songwriter
A title like “The One That Got Away” evokes a certain wistful nostalgia — sending one through alternate-reality scenarios to hash out what could have been, if only things worked out just a little differently. Almost everyone at some point or another comes across that frustratingly elusive certain someone whose very elusiveness provides the greatest source of longing. We always want what we can’t have. The grass is always greener on the other side. You know the drill.
Joy Williams and John Paul White, aka Nashville duo Civil Wars, turn that idea on its head by imagining the scenario in which that certain someone gets the hell out and stays there. “The One That Got Away,” the first single from the band’s upcoming self-titled album, debuted with a slow-moving, altogether ominous cloud of smoke born of either explosion or implosion, and it’s a fitting backdrop for the internal torment of the song. It begins with simple steel guitar and mandolin backing, but ultimately grows into a violent, seething rage of a chorus, as Williams sings, “I wish you were the one/ Wish you were the one that got away.” If I may interject with one more cliché, one should always be careful what he or she wishes for — they just might get it.