This time he wrote the song about the break-up of his first marriage. The funny thing is, that was the same topic of the song before that, and the one before that, too. In fact, if you take a look at every song he’s ever written, at least since that marriage went south, you’ll find references to that marriage, to her, to their daughter, to the place where they lived, to how they met, and all of it can be just a tiny bit in a song, but it’s almost always there.
The songs he writes that include not one hint of that marriage never chart. They’re few and far between. They just don’t have the same heart, don’t elicit the same emotional response from those who follow him.
But the ones that do include some aspect of that relationship, well, he hits the nail on the proverbial head with the buying public every time. It’s universal, that kind of heartbreak.
This one, though, this most recent one, it’s the biggest hit yet. I mean not only has it been sitting in Billboard’s number-one slot for six months now with no sign of weakening, but the album, which is mixed in terms of the quality of the songs, is selling off the charts as well.
He was doing okay before, but he’s raking it in now. Funny how losing your true love can turn into such money-making music. Maybe a big part of it is that this one is the most autobiographical of all. And I mean there’s no persona. The “I” is him. One hundred percent. It was in the news. Hit the front pages of newspapers not only here, but around the world. This song and this story. Talk about your universal appeal.
I asked him once, during the trial, what comes first when he writes, the music or the lyrics. It’s a mixed bag, he told me, sometimes one, sometimes the other, sometimes somewhere in between.
“It’s a kind of spectrum,” he said, “a sliding scale between music on one end and the words on the other.”
“How about with this latest hit?” I asked.
“Oh, this one, definitely the music came first. The idea for the lyrics came early on, but the actual lyrics, the final version, came after the fact.”
“The fact of the killing?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said, smiling. “I wrote the music sitting sad as usual about Sarah leaving me, and then, as the anger built up, I felt the words coming, and when I shot her, I mean right then and there, I sat down in that living room of hers I paid for, took one of her pens that I paid for, and wrote the words. They just came pouring out of me.”
“There are a lot of songs, actually,” I said, “that talk about killing someone you love. But this one, because it’s true, it really make a deep impression on everyone.”
“Yeah,” he said, smiling that smile you sometimes see on his album covers, the smile that wins him female fans left and right, “this one kills.”