Lyrics Uncovered: Old Dominion, ‘No Such Thing as a Broken Heart’
Old Dominion‘s “No Such Thing as a Broken Heart” finds the fun-loving group taking a turn for the more serious, and according to lead singer/co-writer Matt Ramsey, the song heralds a little bit of a new direction for the group’s forthcoming sophomore album.
Old D scored hits with “Break Up With Him,” “Snapback” and “Song for Another Time” from their debut album, Meat and Candy, but “No Such Thing as a Broken Heart” bears a little bit more of a message, encouraging listeners to rise above their day-to-day challenges and live life in the best way possible.
“You know you can’t keep the ground from shaking / No matter how hard you try / You can’t keep the sunsets from fading, you gotta treat your love like / You’re jumping off a rope swing maybe ’cause the whole thing is really just a shot in the dark / You gotta love like there’s no such thing as a broken heart / You gotta love like there’s no such thing as a broken heart,” the chorus states.
Ramsey co-wrote the song with Old D bandmates Brad Tursi and Matt Rosen, along with Jesse Frasure, a notable Nashville songwriter and producer whose credits include Florida Georgia Line, Chris Lane, Lauren Alaina and Jon Pardi. Frasure joined the band on the road for a weekend of writing, and like so many of the group’s songs, it was born out of an informal session in the back of the band’s bus.
“One of my favorite things about this song is that there was no idea that day,” Ramsey says. “We were just kind of talking, and we had a little groove going, and I said, ‘I wonder if Jack and Diane ever made it.’ And we all just kinda perked up and thought, ‘Man, what does that even mean?’ And we just kinda started writing this song, with no real direction.”
Working to a track Frasure brought with him, the writers all jumped in to split the work of creating the melody and lyrics, with everyone throwing in ideas and editing everyone else. They had most of the first verse and chorus set before Rosen spit out the central line, “You’ve got to love like there’s no such thing as a broken heart.”
“We all just went, ‘Man, that’s the whole song!'” Ramsey recalls.
"It’s a hard thing to watch on TV, just the state of everything right now, and the news and everything, it can really weigh on you."
“No Such Thing as a Broken Heart” was written soon after the shootings in Orlando in 2016, and while the writers weren’t consciously writing about that tragedy, “It is something that we were feeling. It’s a hard thing to watch on TV, just the state of everything right now, and the news and everything, it can really weigh on you,” Ramsey reflects. “We didn’t set out to do that, to be some sort of messenger. It really was just what we were feeling that day.”
The group had to work around one of the key lines to release the song to mainstream radio.
“What am I gonna tell my kids when they see / All of this bulls–t that goes down on TV?” Ramsey sings. It’s a line that gave the writers pause, but they decided to move ahead with it, even though it means compromising the line for country radio.
“They bleep the ‘sh-t’ out, for sure,” Ramsey say with a laugh. Old Dominion have recorded an alternate take for some markets that substitutes “BS” for the offending word.
“That line is just something that I said. We were all talking, and I was like, ‘Man, what am I gonna tell my kids when they see all this bulls–t on TV?'” he says. “Then you sing it and it just fits right in, and you think, ‘Should we say that?’ But it’s truly what you feel, so yes, you should definitely say that. If you’re feeling it, chances are other people are, too.”
The song changed dramatically from its original work tape to the version that has been released to country radio, Ramsey says, which took some getting used to since the band members had “demo-itis” after becoming attached to the arrangement. Its release as the lead single from the group’s forthcoming sophomore album heralds a slight change for the band.
“We’re very excited about this song. It felt like something no one had ever heard us say before,” Ramsey says. “It’s not a pickup line song or a fun singalong thing. It actually has a message, and it felt like it was time for us to come out with something a little bit more substantial.”
Old Dominion hope that the song is different enough to help them overcome the “sophomore slump” that so often impacts artists’ second albums if they had big success with their debut.
“The next project is definitely … there’s still the fun, goofy Old Dominion guys on this album, but it definitely has a lot more message to it, a little bit heavier subject matter at times. We opened the door with Meat and Candy, and lots of times that door gets shut right back in your face with a new artist,” Ramsey says with another laugh. “We just want to solidify our spot, We want to make sure we put our flag in the ground and say, ‘We’re here, we’re for real, we’re not going away.’ And hopefully our fans — and new fans, too — will go, ‘Wow, Old Dominion isn’t just a flash in the pan. This is something I did not expect from them, but it still sounds like them, and I’m in for the long haul.'”
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