Sara Bareilles – “She Used to Be Mine” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

“She Used to Be Mine” by Sara Bareilles is a heart-wrenching song about self-discovery, change, and the longing for what was once familiar. Bareilles skilfully paints a portrait of a woman who has lost herself in the trials of life, embodying the pain of losing one’s identity and the struggle of self-reconciliation. The song is not about a specific person, but rather a general narrative of personal transformation and acceptance. Through these raw, honest lyrics, Bareilles sends a powerful message about resilience and personal growth. She wrote this song as an introspective journey into the depths of her character’s emotions, reminding listeners of the power they have to reclaim their identities and rewrite their stories.

Hooked? Join us as we dive into the deep lyrical ocean of “She Used to Be Mine”, exploring the tides of emotion and the undercurrents of meaning Bareilles so eloquently shares with us.

“She Used to Be Mine” Lyrics Meaning

The song opens with a poignant confession, “It’s not simple to say / Most days I don’t recognize me.” Here, Bareilles is setting the tone for a self-reflective journey. The narrator laments her loss of identity, a common experience when one’s life has veered off the expected course.

Through the lines “These shoes and this apron / That place and its patrons / Have taken more than I gave ’em,” Bareilles hints at a loss of personal autonomy. The narrator feels trapped in a mundane routine that has consumed her, overshadowing her own desires and needs.

In the chorus, Bareilles outlines the dichotomy of the narrator’s character: she’s “imperfect but she tries / She is good but she lies / She is hard on herself / She is broken and won’t ask for help.” Each contradiction reveals the complexities of human nature, showing the conflict between how one perceives themselves and their reality.

“She is messy but she’s kind / She is lonely most of the time / She is all of this mixed up / And baked in a beautiful pie” these lines encapsulate the narrative of the song: acknowledging the imperfections yet recognizing the beauty within. The songstress illustrates the narrator’s self-image as a complex ‘pie’, sweet yet chaotic.

The most resonating line, “She is gone but she used to be mine,” hits like a thunderbolt, expressing the narrator’s longing for her old self, an ode to the person she once was but seems to have lost.

Bareilles continues the journey with “Sometimes life just slips in through a back door / And carves out a person / And makes you believe it’s all true,” highlighting how life can unexpectedly shape a person and manipulate their beliefs. This encapsulates the core theme of the song – losing oneself in the unpredictability of life and the yearning to reconnect with the past.

“And now I’ve got you / And you’re not what I asked for / If I’m honest I know I would give it all back / For a chance to start over / And rewrite an ending or two” signifies regret and the desire for a do-over. The narrator wishes to rewrite her story, a common human urge when faced with adverse circumstances.

Then comes the turning point with “To fight just a little / To bring back the fire in her eyes / That’s been gone but it used to be mine.” This signals the beginning of a transformative journey, with the narrator recognizing the power she possesses to regain her lost identity.

Overall, “She Used to Be Mine” masterfully explores the raw emotions associated with identity, change, and self-reconciliation. It beautifully brings to the surface the internal battles we fight as we evolve throughout our lives.

The Story Behind “She Used to Be Mine”

Sara Bareilles wrote this song while working on the musical “Waitress”, and it’s hard not to see the influences of the character’s struggle in these lyrics. Although not explicitly about Bareilles’ personal experiences, the song draws on universal feelings of longing, change, and self-reflection that many can relate to.

As Bareilles was writing this song, she was also in a process of self-discovery and change herself. She was transitioning from a successful pop singer to a Broadway songwriter for the musical “Waitress.” This significant career change and the challenges that came with it are palpable in the lyrics.

“It’s not what I asked for / Sometimes life just slips in through a back door / And carves out a person / And makes you believe it’s all true.” These lines encapsulate Bareilles’ feelings during this period. The unexpected turns life takes, the surprising paths it carves, and how, amidst all the chaos and change, you still believe in the process.

Bareilles has often talked about how deeply personal and challenging it was to write this song. In multiple interviews, she has mentioned how “She Used to Be Mine” was her most personal song. The emotions that Bareilles poured into this song can be felt in its every word, line, and verse. She managed to give her emotions a melody and rhythm that listeners around the world could connect with, making it a universally relatable anthem of change and self-acceptance.

While the exact details of the story behind the song remain personal to Bareilles, it’s evident that “She Used to Be Mine” is a piece of her heart shared with the world. It’s a song that captures the human spirit’s resilience, reminding us of our strength and our ability to reclaim, redefine, and accept our identities, no matter how lost we feel.

In conclusion, “She Used to Be Mine” isn’t just a song; it’s an emotional journey, a story of resilience, acceptance, and hope. It’s Sara Bareilles’ gift to anyone who’s ever felt lost, reminding us that it’s okay to feel messy and imperfect because, within that chaos, lies a beautiful, resilient spirit that used to be, still is, and will always be ours.