Jennifer Nettles on Listening and Performing

Even as the Artist, She Can Hear What We Hear

Jennifer Nettles’ “Unlove You” is possibly the saddest country song on the radio right now. It’s all about loving an ex so much, you wish you never loved him.

It’s moving, but in that kind of been-there-hated-that way.

Nettles wrote the song with Brandy Clark, and in a recent radio interview, she talked about what the song means to her as a writer, a singer and even as a listener.

“It offers a different kind of emotional stirring to perform it than it does to write it or to hear it actualized in a recording than it does to perform it,” Nettles said. “For example, each of them offer something really special, but when you hear it all together, and I’m able to listen to it as a listener as well, it does offer a different power when it’s fully realized.”

With lyrics like, “I can’t unlove you/My heart can’t unbreak/I can’t unfeel how it felt and I can’t unknow this/Lord, I wish I knew how/But I can’t unlove you/So come love me for now,” Nettles knows what a heartbreaker it is.

“Sometimes I also hear myself as a third person observer, like it’s not me, if I’m listening to it in that way,” she explained, “and sometimes, especially with this song, I think, ‘Oh, how sad. Oh, that’s so sad.’”

And you just can’t unhear that.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.