It was three years ago that Texas native Mickey Guyton walked into her very first Nashville songwriting session, and walked out just about a half hour later with what would become a record-setting hit song. “Better Than You Left Me,” co-written with Jennifer Hanson, Jenn Schott and Nathan Chapman, was added to 79 country radio stations in its first week — the highest one-week add total of a country artist’s debut single in Country Aircheck history.
For Guyton, the key was pouring her heart out to a group of strangers. “Better Than You Left Me” was inspired by a messy breakup that was weighing heavy on her mind the day of the session. She walked in and recounted the story to her collaborators within minutes of meeting them.
“This was one of those songs that just fell from the sky,” she tells Rolling Stone Country. “I had my final fight with my ex-boyfriend — he was trying to come back into my life after we’d been going back and forth for about four years. He just couldn’t get it together, and I was telling him no. He said to me, ‘Don’t make me find someone else.’ I couldn’t believe he would say something like that! I was charged up from that conversation and went into my first co-write in Nashville…. I went through the whole relationship, and Jennifer Hanson said, ‘But you know what? You’re better than he left you.'”
To add to the authenticity of the song, Guyton wanted to recreate her first post-breakup days in its video. Thus, her real-life best friends (who are also her roommates in Nashville) — along with her dog, Charlie — are her only castmates in the clip. (Watch above.) It’s a fun video, with certainly more smiles than tears, as the singer wanted to highlight the song’s empowering message over its recounting of a painful goodbye.
“We wanted to do a Thelma and Louise-type thing where your girlfriends really bring you through your hard times,” says the singer. “That’s what happened to me: This guy broke my heart, and I called all my girlfriends and they came over and pulled me out of it. That’s what this video is. It’s freeing myself from the complications and the hold that this guy had on my life.”
The way Guyton’s going, she’s building a sea of close confidants who can help her turn a bad situation into a good song. After getting her big country music break, she came up with her own songwriting rule: “Put it all out there; act like you’re writing with your sister every time.” And for this budding country star, that first, rule-abiding time was certainly the charm.