Written by Matraca Berg, Suzy Bogguss, and Gary Harrison
There’s a term that has gathered strength over the past decade: the quarter-life crisis. It describes that phase in life where the idealism of what you thought your life would be collides with what reality has in store for you. Reconciling the two is needed to get beyond this point of life, and adulthood completely sets in once such reconciliation has been accomplished.
A significant difference between the major female artists of the early nineties and those of today is that they’re on opposite sides of that quarter-life marker. Take at the ages in which today’s newer female stars enjoyed their first top twenty hit: Carrie Underwood, 22; Miranda Lambert, 22; Kellie Pickler, 20; Taylor Swift, 17.
Now compare that to the women who broke through from 1989-1992: Suzy Bogguss, 34; Pam Tillis, 33; Mary Chapin Carpenter, 31; Wynonna, 27; Trisha Yearwood, 26. Unlike today, there were also several additional female artists who were also on the radio – Reba McEntire, Kathy Mattea, Patty Loveless, and Tanya Tucker – all of whom were in their thirties.
“Age ain’t nothin’ but a number,” Aaliyah once sang, but the musical output of these two crops of artists suggest otherwise. “Hey Cinderella” was a top five hit for Bogguss in 1994, and perhaps best exemplifies the different perspectives of these two generations of women.
“We believed in fairy tales that day,” Bogguss sings as she reminisces with her friend about the day her friend got married. “I watched your father give you away. Your aim was true when the pink bouquet fell right into my hands.” It sounds like the beginning of the latest Taylor Swift song, perhaps a duet with Kellie Pickler.
But as life goes on, “through the years, and the kids, and the jobs, and the dreams that lost their way,” these grown women are wondering about those fairy tales. “I’ve got a funny feeling we missed a page or two somehow”, and find themselves wanting to question the legendary princess: “Cinderella, maybe you can help us out?” they ask. “Does the shoe fit you now?”
While the perspective of youth is honestly preserved, these are clear-eyed adults with a wealth of life experiences informing their feelings today. It doesn’t get more honest than the line “We’re good now ’cause we have to be.” It’s not so much we grow up because we want to, but rather because we have to.
I’ve written many times that I don’t find Taylor Swift’s music offensive so much as irrelevant. When I was a teenager, I could listen to country music and not fully understand the intricacies of what the songs were about, but I knew I’d eventually grow into an understanding. Over the past fifteen years, I’ve done just that. What I can’t do is regress back into the state of development needed to find Taylor Swift’s music relevant to me.
Honestly, I don’t think that the world looked like what’s described in “You Belong With Me” and “Love Story” at any period of my life. I’ve just never known girls who saw the world that way. The ones I knew have grown up to be women quite a bit like those that Bogguss and her contemporaries sang about. Here’s hoping that this generation is able to do the same. In the meantime, if you like country music by and for adults, this forgotten hit is a great starting point.
Definitely overlooked in favor of “Outbound Plane”, “Drive South” and “Letting Go”, but I’ve always liked this one more. Good call on the Taylor Swift analogy. I was 13 when this song came out but I wanted to learn the meaning behind lines like “Dolls gather dust in the corner of the attic, bicycles rust in the rain” more than something like “She’s cheer captain and I’m on the bleachers.”
One thing that I failed to mention (though I might have when I interviewed her) is that “Hey Cinderella” is her top iTunes download. As you said, it was fairly overlooked at the time, notable mostly for being the last of her hits. It’s aged very well, as have most Matraca Berg compositions and the bulk of Bogguss’s music as a whole.
Suzy Bogguss may be the most underrated artist in recent memory (that, plus she has the prettiest eyes of any female performer that I can think of)
This was a great song – thanks for posting it
it is a great hit. suzy bogguss seemed to me to occupy the same space as patty loveless: female, contemporary, smart – but definitely country – music. and that’s a bad place to be.
Love this song. Great analysis too.
Great article. Thanks. Must be Suzy Bogguss day. Saw a review of her Wine, Women & Song concert today over on the 9513. I would certainly agree that she’s one of the most underrated. As I’ve said before, she’s still my favorite female vocalist. Great voice and she seems to sing so effortlessly. I’d love to see another album from her but I haven’t heard of anything being in the works.
I was a young kid in the 90’s and this song came out when – was eight. I loved it then but – love it and relate to it now especially since the reality is that now I’m an adult and there is no going back has sinked in. I want to point out too that I was 11 when Leann Rimes came out and I hated her music compared to the older female singers. Even though I couldn’t relate to the older gals songs they were better written, better sang , and I too like someone said before would come to a point in life where these great songs would be relevant to me. The only young artist I ever liked was Lila McCann. I think in the end if Taylor will be forgotten while people like suzy may have had less hits and sold less will be remembered!
Interesting. I’m pleasantly surprised that it’s her top iTunes seller.
This is a masterfully constructed bit of commentary. I can’t begin to say how much I enjoyed reading it. A near perfect compare/contrast to the changes in country music over the past 2 decades.
This has always been my second favorite Bogguss song, just behind ‘Aces’. It always sounded to me like something out of the Mary Charpin Carpenter songbook as well.
LOVED those ladies from the late ’80’s – early ’90’s! Was a huge fan of Mary Chapin, Kathy, and Patty. Their music was not only entertaining but truly meaningful… it had something to say on various levels. I agree that it was something to grow into and grow up with… almost like an older sister offering sound advice.
Excellent post! One little nit-pick. Only in her wildest dreams does Taylor Swift’s voice compare with that of Suzy Bogguss. I have heard Suzy miss a note, but it is a rare occurrence.
Good call on “Aces”, J.R. Another unique and well written hit.
“Aces” is my favorite of hers as well. Also heard another favorite Bogguss cut on shuffle today, “Nobody Love, Nobody Gets Hurt”, which was written by Bobbie Cryner.
This is a great one. To say it is one of my favorites of hers says something since she has so many great ones.
I teach Gender Communication courses to college students, and I often talk about this song. When you look at the story arc of “love” in popular culture, the story ends with living happily ever after. Rarely so we get any glimpse at what happens after the wedding, especially from a female perspective.
great song. Wow 16 yrs ago!
Chad said: I teach Gender Communication courses to college students, and I often talk about this song. When you look at the story arc of “love” in popular culture, the story ends with living happily ever after. Rarely so we get any glimpse at what happens after the wedding, especially from a female perspective.
How about Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” which she wrote with Don Schlitz for her 1992 album “Come On Come On”.
That’s a great one, Bob. I remember not quite comprehending the underlying commentary of that song and my dad explaining it to me as a kid and having the lightbulb go on when I was older. I suppose that’s an example of what Kevin’s talking about here.
I also find it interesting the age these ladies won their first CMA Female Vocalist Award
Mary Chapin Carpenter-34
And of course K.T. Oslin who won it at 46
Id be suprised to see the current female acts at radio to still be chart topping and award winning at this age.
It will be interesting to see how many of the young artists are still on the scene in a decade or if they succumb to “young star syndrome”. I hadn’t thought of Suzy Bogguss for a long time, but she had an awesome voice. I’m going to go download her greatest hits!
Great article. I really like Suzy Bogguss. Her Wine, Women & Song concert was really good. This song “hey Cinderella’ is one of my favorites though. I think her voice is good and she is definitely underrated. She’s still one of my favorite female vocalists. Great voice. I can’t wait to see another album from her. But I have heard of something being in the works.
I saw a few weeks ago on a link from the 9513 that at a recent show “she included gorgeous renderings of the campfire classics Shenandoah and Red River Valley, both slated for a CD of traditional American music coming out next year”.
Read more: http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/04/29/2153452/bogguss-gets-beyond-country-sound.html#ixzz0oTWxlUkX
I miss Suzy Bogguss. I grew up listening to her and the other 89-92 women and it really was an exciting time for women in Country. It’s almost embarrasing to compare the two groups. God bless Carrie Underwood, she has a beautiful voice but she’s too young, she dresses like a stripper and I don’t get the emotion from her. Taylor Swift is a great role model for young women and she has a pretty voice but the songs are so bad and she is too young. And Miranda Lambert seems nice but she lacks the maturity to sing some of the heart-wrenching ballads that she is given.