“People are always like, ‘There are so many heartache songs in country,’ and I’m like ‘well, there’s so much heartache in the world,'” country singer Cam says with a laugh. She is speaking on the phone to Yahoo Lifestyle the morning after co-hosting the CMA red carpet, and the “Burning House” singer and songwriter is counting down the days until the radio release of her new song “Diane” (which has since happened).
While heartache isn’t something new for country, or music in general, the way “Diane” handles it is. The song is upbeat, “ABBA meets Fleetwood Mac,” Cam says, with lyrics that have the other woman speaking directly to the woman wronged. “Oh, I promise I didn’t know he was your man / I would have noticed a gold wedding band / Diane, I’d rather you hate me than not understand, oh Diane.”
“This is human to human; woman to woman,” Cam says about the message of “Diane,” likening it to the conversation happening in Dolly Parton’s classic “Jolene.” “When Dolly sings ‘Jolene’ she’s saying, I know you can take him but can you please not do this? There’s going to be other guys for you, but he’s the only one for me.” Human to human; woman to woman.
“I’ve had people really close to me who have had this happen to them, the infidelity part,” Cam says of the song’s inspiration. “And in their lives, they didn’t get the honesty or the apology. I wanted to create a world where I take on the role of the other woman and I do the right thing, which is to say, I didn’t realize he was married, and now that I do you deserve the truth and an apology. We need more songs that remind people, please be truthful.”
This message is more than just a song for Cam, it’s a philosophy. Her social media account is peppered with images encouraging women to support one another, and she’s turned “Diane” into a full-blown movement with “Dear Diane” Facebook livestreams and an e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org), where she encourages people to send in their own story of heartache and relationship queries (along with questions about her music).
“I want to do a podcast eventually,” she says, adding that infidelity “affects, like, 60 percent of relationships.
“So many people I hear from, they got cheated on and they’re too embarrassed or ashamed to tell even their close friends. How are you supposed to go through something like that without your support system?”
A post shared by Cam (@camcountry) on Feb 25, 2017 at 4:23pm PST
As for why she’s decided to use her music to connect so directly with fans, Cam has an easy answer. “For me it was a very conscious decision to go into music,” she says. “I was doing psychology research before. The only thing that makes this whole thing really worth it is human connection and awareness. I’m definitely not somebody who is in this for celebrity or whatever; that’s tiring to me.”
Of course the music itself can be connection enough and can help get you through heartache almost as much as a support system can. “Having music to listen to on repeat. I can think of a lot of times when that was the way,” Cam says about her own past experiences with getting over heartache. “Music helps you cry it out, and helps you realize this is a huge part of life. All of us deserve those songs to listen to that make us feel understood.”
There’s no doubt that “Diane” will make at least a few people out there feel like someone truly gets them.
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