Pop singers often find inspiration in their personal lives, making them prominent subjects in their musical creations. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that many singers and songwriters use their struggles, including experiences of death and divorce, to create compelling musical material. Of course, heartbreak and loss strike a chord with listeners, too.
Whether it's to express disappointment, fear, or joy following a failed marriage, many musicians turn to music as a powerful outlet to express their emotions (and to sell their music and merchandise). Their songs become the canvas for processing and sharing the highs and lows of their relationships. Let's take a closer look at what we can learn from the following artists and their experiences with divorce.
Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours started it all
The 1977 album Rumours by Fleetwood Mac may not have been the first album centered around divorce, but it certainly stands as a trailblazer in showcasing how divorce can serve as a fertile ground for creating exceptional and inspiring music.
Often cited by music critics as one of the best albums of all time, Rumours revolved around the band members' tumultuous relationships. The on-again, off-again relationship between band members Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham played a significant role in fueling the band's creativity during this album’s creation. However, it's worth noting that the album also emerged from the aftermath of the divorce of their fellow band members, John and Christine McVie.
But that’s not all. Around the same time, band member Mick Fleetwood discovered his wife had been involved in an affair.
The album ultimately became a classic, not only for its musical brilliance but also for the emotional journey it represents. What's quite astonishing is that they didn't let their personal struggles hold back the power of their collaboration. Divorced couples with kids can take a note from these rock stars' playbooks. For instance, when kids are in the picture, it's time to put on your co-parenting capes and prioritize their well-being.
Mariah Carey’s Butterfly: The first successful use of the butterfly as a symbol of personal and creative freedom
Mariah Carey's sixth studio album, Butterfly, was released in 1997, just months after her divorce from music executive Tommy Mottola. The album, widely seen as a turning point in Carey's career, is a deeply personal album that offers a unique perspective on the diva’s divorce experience.
The lyrics of songs like the album’s title track,“Butterfly,” reflect Carey's journey through divorce, as she sings about shedding her old skin. Other songs on the album, such as “Honey” and “Breakdown,” also deal with themes of heartbreak, loss, and empowerment.
Besides its personal insights, Butterfly also offers some broader lessons about divorce. For example, the album shows how divorce can be a time of great personal growth. Carey emerged from her divorce a stronger and more independent woman who was no longer restrained by her allegedly controlling husband. The album is a reminder that divorce is not always a negative experience and that it can be a time of great change and transformation.
Chris Martin’s divorce from Gwyneth Paltrow told as Ghost Stories
In Coldplay's album, Ghost Stories, Chris Martin masterfully summoned "ghosts" as a metaphor to capture his conscious uncoupling from Gwyneth Paltrow, his partner of a decade. While the album might not have coined a phrase as iconic as "conscious uncoupling," it still managed to give their fame a little love nudge (though they were already pretty famous).
Ghost Stories delves into the vocalist’s past, searching for answers to where everything took a turn for the worse in his relationship. Unlike their anthemic rock classics, the songs on this album have an electronic and ambient sound, featuring synthesizers and electronic beats. Martin's lyrics take a personal and introspective turn, digging deep into his experiences of loss.
Kacey Musgraves references literature’s most famous star-crossed lovers to process her own marital doom
Kacey Musgraves’s divorce album, star-crossed, is a reference to Romeo & Juliet. Like the Shakespearean tragedy, the album's songs explore the themes of love and loss. star-crossed was a critical and commercial success, which must have been a nice consolation for Musgraves, considering the album resulted from her unsuccessful marriage.
star-crossed is a more orchestral and cinematic album, with a focus on strings and piano. The album's lyrics are also more personal and introspective, reflecting Musgraves' own experiences of heartbreak.
Listening to the songs on this album, one can't help but notice Kacey Mursgraves’ relaxed tone. Unlike some of her pop diva peers, such as Adele and Mariah, who crafted powerful masterpieces around their divorces, Musgraves' contribution to the divorce album canon appears more subdued. Her portrayal of her ex and their past life together lacks the usual anguish often found in such albums. Perhaps this calm demeanor stems from the fact that she and her now-ex-husband parted amicably, or maybe it's a testament to the guidance of a skillful divorce attorney. Either way, Musgraves' take on divorce brings a fresh perspective to the table.
If you’re going through a divorce, we recommend these fine albums to listen to. If you need solid advice on how to go about your divorce, you need to listen to family law attorneys like Buckingham, LaGrandeur & Williams. We are the team to call for family law cases in Washington State. Visit our law offices in Renton or leave us a message.