You know you’re a country singer when you celebrate a blossoming new romance after your divorce by writing … a breakup song.
That’s what Blake Shelton’s done here. And the new object of his affection these days, Gwen Stefani, joins him on this duet about the pain of saying goodbye.
Never mind that in real life, they just said hello.
Blake and Gwen’s romance might be in its early days of blooming, but that detail isn’t really present in the story Shelton spins here … at least not his portion of it.
It seems a woman he cares deeply about has left him. Again. (It’s country, remember?) “The sun is setting on your last good try,” Shelton drawls, “Here I am again with half a goodbye/Wonder if you’re really gone this time.”
He’s right to wonder, because, well, she isn’t. Gone that is. “Just when I’m about to lose my mind/There you are again on my phone.” Turns out she’s just as miserably lonesome as he is. “The moon is rising, and you’re all alone/Maybe we could just hang a while/Maybe we can make each other smile/Oh no, here I go.”
We don’t know much more about his couple’s on-again, off-again relationship, other than the fact that it’s something Shelton can’t seem to resist, even though he says “oh no” as he plunges back into it. He knows it’s not the healthiest romance in the history of the world … but that’s not really stopping him from pining for it.
The chorus mopes over the idea that she should just put him out of his misery and get it over with already, once and for all. “Why don’t you go ahead and break my heart,” he wails. “Why are you waiting, is it way too hard?/If moving on is what you wanna do/Why don’t you do it? Why don’t you do it, baby?”
Shelton’s got little patience for some sort of clichéd consolation prize (“You can’t tell me that we’ll still be friends”), but that doesn’t hold him back from holding out desperate, Adele-like hope that there might still be a someday waiting for both of them down the road a ways (“And maybe someday we can try again”).
The details of Blake’s portion of the song don’t seem to square with what we know about his real-life relationship with Gwen Stefani. But her verse sounds a lot more autobiographical as she focuses on her fear of commitment in the wake of her own divorce.
“I’d never ever meant to get so into you,” she begins. “Thought I was using you just to get me through.” But somewhere along the line, that admittedly selfish motivation turned into something else: “You know I’m broken, I don’t trust anyone/Last thing I needed was to fall in love.” She apparently did, though. “You’ve got me dreaming, got me thinking, I’ve got some hope/There is nobody else I wanna get to know.” Still, Gwen’s hope finds itself in checkmate to her lingering skittishness about trying again at love: “But I’m so scared, I don’t know what to do/How did you get me so into you?”
I’m not the only one who’s noticed that Blake’s part of “Go Ahead and Break My Heart” doesn’t quite jibe with what’s happening between him and Gwen.
Blake recently talked with Kathy Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb on the Today show. Kotb said, “The words are ‘Go Ahead and Break My Heart,’ and you’re singing it to this girl who you clearly love. So we don’t get the words versus the vibe.”
He responded, “We were just writing it about [how] it was hard to kind of let our guards down again, you know what I mean? Just going through some issues, and so that’s what the song was even written about. It’s like, I know something bad is going to happen, because it always does, so let’s just get it over with now.”
Clearly, earnest optimism doesn’t come easily for the 39-year-old Shelton … even when you might expect him to be penning more upbeat material. To his credit, though, at least he’s not drowning his sorrows in alcohol (another go-to “remedy” for country crooners’ romantic woes). And elsewhere on his latest album, he’s actually singing about how Jesus watches over him (“Savior’s Shadow”).
Here’s hoping that in his personal life, Blake’s newfound recognition of Jesus’ guiding role on that other track contributes to an outcome better than the fatalistic, melancholy one he’s obsessed with on “Go Ahead and Break My Heart.”
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews.