All the Single Ladies: 8 blistering country divorce anthems
When love goes wrong, what's a sad, mad cowgirl to do? Ask country's all-time queens.
Divorce has been moonlighting as a creative muse for decades. Nowhere is that more apparent than in country music, which has seen everyone from Tammy Wynette to Dolly Parton to Miranda Lambert record scorched-earth breakup anthems. Last week, Kacey Musgraves added her own take to the canon with Star-crossed — which isn't a country album per se as much a a country-hybrid that meshes the genre's close-to-the-bone storytelling with elements of soul, pop, and disco. In honor of the Grammy winner's latest release, we run down eight of the most blistering divorce anthems from country music's queens.
"A Church, A Courtroom, and Then Goodbye" – Patsy Cline (1955)
Six years before "Crazy," Cline traced two lovers' short, sorry path from the altar to the end of the line with this bittersweet steel-guitar teardrop of a ballad.
"D-I-V-O-R-C-E" – Tammy Wynette (1968)
The First Lady of Country knew her material firsthand — she tried on five husbands, and split with F-O-U-R — when she unleashed the world's saddest spelling bee.
"Rated 'X'" – Loretta Lynn (1972)
Being a divorcée cuts both ways on Lynn's classic takedown of the unfair double standards for women who dare to wear the scarlet letter of singledom.
"Starting Over Again" – Dolly Parton (1980)
No vamping "Jolene"s or heart- clutching "I Will Always Love You"s — just a pair of fools, their kids all grown and 30-year union dissolved, facing the grim prospect of turning 50 alone.
"You Don't Even Know Who I Am" – Patty Loveless (1995)
Romance ends not with a bang but a whimper on Loveless' strummy, somber torch song: a ring on the pillow, a key left in the door, and a Dear John note in the kitchen next to the grocery list.
"You Were Mine" – The Chicks (1998)
A devastated plea to an unfaithful man who's moved on, leaving his stricken ex with their two small children and a faded photo album full of memories.
"Does My Ring Burn Your Finger" – Lee Ann Womack (2000)
Love is a flat circle for Womack's woman scorned on this back-porch burner — a world of pain where all the kisses were lies and the past is something "buried in a shallow grave."
A version of this story appears in the October issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands Sept. 17 and available to order here. Don't forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.