In the heartbreaking new video for Sunny Sweeney’s autobiographical “Bottle by My Bed,” the singer-songwriter, who wrote the song with Lori McKenna, candidly addresses the struggle she and her husband, Jeff Hellmer, have endured in their quest to have a baby. The above clip features intimate glimpses of Sweeney and Hellmer, along with brief shots of several infants, young children and parents, but the story behind the song’s real-life impact is one Sweeney would learn was one to which far too many people could relate.
Late last year, Rolling Stone Country was in the recording studio with the Texas-born Sweeney, for an early listen to this and other songs from Trophy, the LP she released in March. The tune’s emotional impact was evident at first listen, but even more so as Sweeney tearfully revealed intimate details of a miscarriage, wondering out loud what the impact of such an honest, revealing song would be to her fans, especially those who know her as a wise-cracking, energetic live performer. Still, it’s not the first time in her four-LP career that she has broached challenging topics, including the dissolution of her first marriage.
“Anybody that knows anything about my music knows I don’t necessarily shy away from subjects,” Sweeney told Rolling Stone Country just prior to the album’s release. “Each record answers kind of a little question for the time in your life where you are.”
Sweeney, who recently shared with People.com the details of fertility treatments and the impact the miscarriage and ensuing difficulties have had on her marriage, told Rolling Stone Country that writing a song about it was akin to the experience of opening up on stage about a the end of a relationship.
“You write songs about a breakup, you record it and then it’s out” she said. “Then it’s still very much a part of you but it’s a lot easier to talk about it a lot easier to deal with… I’m definitely affected by it. But I feel like it’s easier than it was the first time I sang it because I didn’t know what people were going to think. I thought people were going to think I lost my mind. Like, what the hell? Why would I write a song and sing a song about wanting a baby? That’s absolutely like nothing I’ve ever done and nobody’s going to understand. But the fact of the matter is that’s where I am in my life and it’s a very thought-consuming process. It consumes you and it’s kind of hard to concentrate on other things. All your friends are having kids and that amplifies it.”
Since recording it and performing it live on tour, Sweeney has experienced the impact “Bottle by My Bed” has had not only on herself but on others, who have openly shared their own personal stories with her.
“I went through all that shit by myself,” she says. “Not by myself but with my husband. I went through all of it without telling very many people at all. Maybe three people knew. Then the song started having a little bit of a life and I had friends – very, very close friends that I speak to and hang out with all the time – going, ‘Oh my God, let me tell you about my story.’ We had never started the conversation because, especially as a woman. . . well, people in general don’t necessarily want to talk about it because it makes you feel like there’s something wrong with you.”
Sweeney will be on tour next week in the northeast with shows in