Miranda Lambert, born in 1983, is a country singer who was born and raised in Texas. She became popular after being a finalist on Nashville Star in 2003. She has had four albums to date spanning from 2001-2009: three of them have made the charts. In this article, the themes in her three popular albums (Kerosene, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and Revolution) will be discussed. As with many artists, Lambert seems to write what she knows.
There are several common themes in Lambert’s music such as love (both good and bad; secondary themes being revenge and broken hearts), broken dreams and feeling lost in the world, travel, religion, family, violence and anger, low self-esteem, and small town life.
The most common theme in her music is by far love. Only three of her songs deal with a healthy relationship. In those songs, she speaks of the bond between a man and a woman, and how they truly understand and know each other. At least sixteen of her songs dwell on a relationship that ended poorly, for various reasons.
She often sings about infidelity, commonly caused first by a man’s actions. In songs such as “Kerosene” and “White Liar,” her lover cheats on her. There is also the common theme of revenge between the two. In the first, she sings of literally destroying the lives of her ex and his new girlfriend. In the second, she simply cheats on her ex in return.
Another theme is that men do not know how to treat a woman properly. In “Me and Your Cigarettes” she compares a cigarette to a woman. A man will use either in the same fashion to satiate his addiction, then toss both aside when he is done with them. In addition, she makes note that both a woman and a cigarette are always there for a man when he is in need.
Speaking on the same theme, in “Dead Flowers” she speaks of her feelings being like that of dead flowers still in a vase, Christmas lights burnt out but still hung up, and old tires that should have been replaced long ago. While she feels this way, the man doesn’t understand any of the pain that she is going through and is under the impression that everything is just fine. This song also holds the theme of lack of communication in a relationship.
A love theme of simply not getting along with one another, not meshing well, is also present. When this theme is included in a song, it is almost always accompanied by a broken heart. A perfect example of this is “Bring Me Down.” In the end, she sings about knowing that she must move on, even if her trusting heart was broken: she has to start building on her own dreams no matter how many roadblocks she may come across.
There are a couple of other love themes that stand alone in Lambert’s works. One is that of a young, simple love that is cherished between two adolescents in a world where they realize that adults do not love like they should: “Me and Charlie Talking.” This was also Lambert’s debut single.
A final theme about love is that of self-destruction. In “Guilty in Here,” Lambert sings about a woman who cannot resist the temptation of men, even if they are too young to know how to be in a relationship or if they’re married. Secondarily, she sings about the rage and violence of seeing her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend in a bar in “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”
The second-most common theme in her music is feeling empty through having broken dreams and feeling lost on one’s path in life. A large amount of these songs do focus on love and having a broken heart, which were noted above.
The others dwell on the path one takes in life. In “The House That Built Me,” Lambert’s lyrics speak of returning back to the house that she grew up in to rekindle her new self with what her old self was like. The catalyst for needing to go back was feeling as though she was broken up inside because of forgetting who she was when venturing into the world.
In “Love Is Looking For You,” a person who is unstable and hopeless in life is discussed. They’ve searched aimlessly for their place in the world, likely because of the pain from a past love. In this song, it’s noted how important it is for someone to not let themselves be broken and lost at the expense of someone who didn’t truly love them. It is also noted how love is searching for them always.
A theme of travel correlates between some of the songs that have to do with feeling empty. Two of those are “I Can’t Be Bothered” and “Greyhound Bound for Nowhere.” In both of these are plans to set off on a new path of life.
A song that connects the travel theme with a fourth theme is “Love Letters.” In this song, a correlation with religion is made. While in the song she feels as though she isn’t meant to be saved by Jesus, she does plan to start getting on with her life again. Another song that has the theme of religion is “Mama, I’m Alright.” This song describes how her mother has always prayed for her to be strong and religious, but Lambert’s felt that she can’t experience all of life with just prayer and reading the Bible. Instead, she made her way to travel and perform, and she felt strong in her life.
Another song with the theme of religion is “Heart Like Mine.” In this song, she talks about her habits that religious people would consider sinful: drinking, smoking, getting a tattoo. She explains that Jesus himself drank wine, that she’s positive he would understand her heart, and knows he’ll be there waiting for her in the end.
A fifth theme is that of family. Already noted was “The House That Built Me” but other songs that speak about the experiences that go along with family are “New Strings” (where she heads off into the world to fulfill her dreams, even though her mother disagrees with the action), “Heart Like Mine” and “What About Georgia.” The last includes lyrics about a man who goes into the world with big dreams, but neglects to call or visit his family in the process.
A sixth theme is violence and anger. In all cases, Lambert sings about these when a man has mistreated a woman. These songs include “Kerosene,” “White Liar,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” “Sin for a Sin,” and “Gunpowder & Lead.” In the last of these, a man abused a woman: in the rest, a man cheated.
A seventh theme is that of low self-esteem. In “More Like Her” Lambert talks about how her ex chose a girl who had a better attitude about life over herself. This song is very self-loathing and highlights the fact that she thinks her spirit is not simple or easy enough to deal with. In “Virginia Bluebell,” she talks about someone who hangs their head, even though they’ve always wanted to grow as a person. She tells them to hold their head high to let the world see their beauty.
A final theme is that of small-town life. Lambert often mentions her home-state of Texas, as well as other southern areas. In “Famous in a Small Town,” she relays how everyone knows everyone else’s business in a small town, and everyone dies with a famed sort of history.