Story Behind the Song: Cam, ‘Girl Like Me’
Cam's sophomore album closer, "Girl Like Me," sounds like a heartbroken ballad -- and it is, but it's not necessarily about a romantic relationship. Rather, to the singer, the song is about her journey in the music business, and how she needed to fall back in love with her career to keep it going.
Cam released her first major-label album, Untamed, in December of 2015, claiming the No. 2 spot on the country albums chart and a No. 2 single with "Burning House;" however, subsequent singles charted only in the high 30s and low 40s. At the same time, she was navigating issues with her record label, Arista Nashville, that eventually led to her separating herself from the Sony Music Entertainment-owned label and working with Sony's RCA Records out of New York City.
Cam has used her platform to advocate for equality in the music industry and, therefore, has been named to diversity-focused task forces set up by the Recording Academy and the Academy of Country Music. But the toll of her label troubles and the reality of what the disheartening data those task forces were examining meant for her own career left her almost ready to give up on her music career.
Below, Cam explains how she channeled all of these emotions into "Girl Like Me," a song co-written with Natalie Hemby. Read on for the story behind the track, in her own words.
I remember, Natalie Hemby came in, and we were writing together, and we're at my house, and she started playing "Girl Like Me" -- like, the piano part -- and singing the verse.
I was like, "Oh, God, what a sad story." She's like, "It's your story!" [Laughs]
I was like, "Oh my God, it is." She's like, "It's your comeback story. It's your story" ...
I think, sometimes you're not fully ready to -- you know, that's the whole thing: You're not ready to see it for what it is in the light of day, but in music, it's like, "Oh, no, it's just a song; it's just a love song," but then we get to the chorus, and she's like, "What do you think belongs on this melody?" And I was like [singing], "They're gonna give up on you / You're gonna give up on them ..."
And it was just like -- I mean, it's depressing, which, you know, some people are like, "Why are you playing such depressing music out?" But it just -- I hadn't heard that in a song, and I needed that. I needed someone to say to me: You're gonna grow up with ideals and expectations for how the world's going to work and how people are going to treat you, and some of them are completely unrealistic, and some of them are realistic, but they just won't be met. And it's gonna break your heart. Because, if you really believe those things, of course it's gonna break your heart to have it not match up.
And then what do you do? Like, there's more to the story: You have the rest of your life! What are you going to do? Like, are you going to be jaded and brokenhearted the rest of your life? Or are you going to realize that part of it has nothing to do with you and you can't take it personally? You've got to keep moving forward and find a way to accept that there's going to be good people that do bad things and bad people that still are in your life when you try your hardest to avoid them. And that is the agreement we made to be here, I guess ...
So, that song is me saying, like, I basically had to fall back in love with the music business -- not the music. I didn't fall out of love with music, but the music business -- to feel like this was worth my time and energy, because, like, at the darkest of the dark, I remember texting Lindsay [Marias], my manager, being like, "I could make money another way." I'm a privileged person that doesn't have to put up with things that I don't want to put up with, you know?
And that's not to say, like, you should walk away from things that are difficult, but I think it's good to know that, as much as you can be -- especially if you're in a position that you can make a choice -- make the choices that are right for you ...
See Country Music's Most Powerful Women: