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  • Writer's pictureJeff South

Favorite Songs of the 2010s: #2

2. "She Used To Be Mine," Sara Bareilles (2014)

Two notes.

Sara Bareilles hits two notes in "She Used To Be Mine" that are so pure and perfect that the first time I heard them I immediately teared up. The first one occurs in the first chorus as she sings these lyrics:

She's imperfect, but she tries

She is good, but she lies

She is hard on herself

She is broken and won't ask for help

When she sings the word hard, the vocal tone and clarity mixed with the ache and heartbreak touch something deep inside me and my eyes involuntarily well with tears. I fight the emotion and forge on only to be gobsmacked by the second note that occurs a couple of lines later in the same chorus:

She is messy, but she's kind

She is lonely most of the time

Her phrasing on 'lonely' breaks me. It sounds like loneliness feels.

"She Used To Be Mine" is featured in the musical Waitress, based on the film of the same name. The song appears in the second act when the lead character Jenna, who is pregnant, has been left by her abusive husband. He has run off with money she had been hiding from him; money meant for the baby. All alone, she sings "She Used To Be Mine" to lament the way her life has spun out of control. The song is a soliloquy about regret and grief over losing oneself. For me, it is the essence of what can make musical theater so wonderul. Some emotions can only be expressed through song. Sure, in a more realistic mode, Jenna could deliver a powerful monologue, but it would never soar to the emotional heights of something like "She Used To Be Mine." The hurt, raw honesty, and vulnerability could only be adequately captured in a song.

And this is a perfect song. A beautiful, sad, haunting, perfect song.

I am including two videos for this one. The first is the Sara Bareilles version. The other features Sara Bareilles and Jessie Mueller, who played Jenna on Broadway.

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