In March 2010, Miranda Lambert released the emotional “The House That Built Me” as third single from her third studio album, Revolution. Like a lot of ‘history,’ the real story behind the song has been embellished a bit over time. So, let’s get to the bottom of its origins.
During multiple interviews, Lambert has detailed how the standout song represented a time in her and her family’s lives that was incredibly difficult. Lambert’s own mother and father can’t believe their daughter didn’t write the song herself because of how accurately it describes what they all went through.
“It’s like the persons that wrote that song were channeling into our lives at that horrible but great time in our lives,” Rick Lambert shared with the Associated Press. “It was so many mixed emotions during that time because we actually lost everything we owned. We actually lost a house that we built with our own hands.”
After the family’s private investigation business went belly up, they were left with few options and ended up living in a run-down rental house after being forced to stay with relatives.
“‘You’re three months away from bankruptcy’ is what they say, and that’s what happened,” Bev Lambert said. “Four months down the road, we’re just like, ‘What’s happened here?’, and we’re homeless literally.”
That humble rental house is what Miranda Lambert pictured when she heard the song for the first time. With lots of effort, the family built themselves and that house back up, one room at a time, and came out of one of the worst times of their lives intact.
The song itself has a similar history—- being torn apart and put back together with care. “The House That Built Me” was written by Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin and the tune went through seven years of rewrites before it was finally fixed up to become the Texan’s hit song.
“We wrote it, demoed it, turned it in and got absolutely no response. We were so convinced we had a classic, we’d get together for years and think, “What is wrong with it? Why isn’t it resonating?” And finally, what we figured out was, “It’s too complicated. There’s too much story.” We made it simpler and simpler and simpler. We took out a lot of information and kind of drilled it down to the essence. As soon as we demoed that (version), we turned it in, and it was a palpable reaction,” Douglas explained in an interview with The Tennessean.
While it is true that Lambert first heard the song with then-boyfriend Blake Shelton, the exact story most people have come to tell is a little untrue.
Co-writer Tom Douglas retells the popular myth with a storyteller’s edge.
“What I’m getting ready to tell you is not true, but it’s a very good story. So he gets in his truck. He’s with his girlfriend. It’s thundering and lightning, its a windswept Oklahoma highway, and he puts the CD in to try to stay awake. The third song in, “The House That Built Me” comes on, and all of a sudden he hears his girlfriend crying, I mean really weeping. He says “Baby, what’s wrong?” She says, “That’s my story.” He says, “Well, if you love it that much, maybe you should record it.”
The story isn’t completely false, Lambert herself has said that when she heard it with Shelton by her side, she thought it was so incredible and had an instant emotional response.
“It was beautiful,” Lambert said. “I mean, I just started bawling from the second I heard it. He was like, ‘If you have a reaction to this song like that, then you need to cut it.'”
Either way, we sure are glad Lambert heard the song and she was the one to cut it!
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