It's hard to imagine Little Big Town's dramatic new single, "Your Side of the Bed," as anything other than a duet. But that wasn't always the case, say band members Jimi Westbrook and Karen Fairchild.
"When we wrote this song with Lori McKenna, we didn't know it was going to be a duet. We wrote it from one person's perspective. It was on accident that it became a duet," says Fairchild, who has been married to Westbrook since 2007.
"Clearly, Jimi and I live together, so when we were brainstorming on what should go on the record and what shouldn't, we were going through that song. There were just the two of us in the kitchen and we were like, 'Man, that makes a cool duet!'"
"I like the dynamic of Jimi and Karen in the classic country duet thing that we get to express within this band, which I think is really exciting," says fellow band member Philip Sweet.
"It's painfully honest. I think if you've been in any kind of long-term relationship, you have to have [felt that way] at some point, whether it was one night or for any length of time. You feel like you're lying next to someone, and you should be close, but you're not. And there's something that's come between you. It creates this distance," Fairchild says.
"It gets you kind of where you live. Whether or not you're in the middle of that, or you can just think back on the pain, there's probably nothing more lonely than lying next to somebody and saying, 'They don't know me anymore,' or 'They don't want to know me anymore.' And how that hurts. So I think we're tapping into a nerve there," she adds.
The sweeping single also shows a different side of the group, which has been enjoying a whirlwind year, thanks to the smash single "Tornado" and the Grammy-winning "Pontoon."
Fairchild notes, "I have hopes for this song with the fans because 'Pontoon' has been fun and 'Tornado' has been this anthemic, I'm-gonna-rip-your-house-down song. But this is about real life, living and the emotional connection we have with the fans when we sing it."
On the day the band recorded the song, Westbrook noticed their guitarist was about to cry. Oddly enough, that made Westbrook very happy.
"After we did the first take of that, I was sitting next to him, and he kind of had tears in his eyes. And he leaned over and goes, 'Are you all OK?' It was like, 'Yesss!'"
He adds, "I don't think we've done anything this emotional. I look forward to that and exploring that and showing that to people. ... They don't know if it's really that story, like, 'Is that real?' There's a mystery to it that makes you go, 'Hmmm,' and try to figure it out."
"It's like a throwback to all the duet moments [in country music history]," Fairchild says. "I remember watching them on the CMA Awards, whether it's George and Tammy or Tim and Faith. You watch them, and there's that tension of a real marriage relationship that translates. And sometimes they weren't real marriages ... but maybe there was something goin' on!"