What if I read song lyrics as a flash fiction story? Here’s Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush”. If you’re not familiar with it, you can view it on YouTube:
(Incidentally, I’ve decided to call these articles where I interpret songs as flash fiction “Flash Jukebox” because… well, no good reason. It’s just a little shorter than “Songs as Flash Fiction”, though more annoying to google.)
Little Big Town recorded this song for their 2014 album “Pain Killer”. The song was written by Lori McKenna, Hillary Lindsey, and Liz Rose, who have a significant number of songwriting credits between them.
The late Harlan Howard famously described country music as “three chords and the truth,” and though there are a couple of minor chords thrown in, this song carries on in that tradition. With only a guitar for accompaniment and straightforward lyrics, this song is as minimal as anything you’ll hear on the radio nowadays.
“Girl Crush” is one of the oldest stories in literature: the love triangle. A love triangle brings in strong emotions: love, jealousy, and heartbreak, each of which are rife with conflict. Since none of the characters are named, I’ll refer to the viewpoint character as Alice, her love interest as Bob, and his girlfriend as Charlie. (Maybe “Charlie” is a call sign, like Kelly McGillis’s character in Top Gun.) Alice, our viewpoint character, is in love with Bob. Alas for Alice, Bob is besmitten by Charlie, who in turn Charlie has charmed. TVTropes classifies this type of triangle as a type 4 TriangRelation: a woman loves a man in a relationship with another woman.
(This is one interpretation, at least. There are others, including that Alice was with Bob until Charlie stole him away.)
The twist that makes this story interesting is how Alice presents her infatuation. She is focused to the point of obsession, not on Bob, but on his lover Charlie. The title “Girl Crush” comes from the fact that Alice expresses her jealousy in terms of desire for Charlie. Alice states: “I got it real bad / Want everything she has.” She even elaborates “I wanna kiss [Charlie’s] lips, yeah, ’cause they taste like [Bob].” Though the story is told first-person and addressed to Bob, Alice isn’t literally pouring out her quasi-lesbian jealous vibes to Bob. It’s more of a soliloquy, and this lets Alice reveal her hidden emotions without actually being heard by Bob or Charlie.
The writers do a wonderful job of conveying Alice’s desperation. She knows everything about Charlie: “I want her long blonde hair / I want her magic touch”. Her mind is completely preoccupied with Charlie, and what she’s doing with Bob: “That smile and that midnight laugh she’s giving you now,” and “I don’t get no sleep […] Thinking about her under your bedsheets.” Alice’s despair is even implied by the wordplay “I want to drown myself…” before finishing the line with “…in a bottle of her perfume.”
Simply put, this is a song of infatuation to the point of obsession, but directed at her crush’s lover. At under 200 words (depending on which lyric site you trust), “Girl Crush” takes a commonplace love triangle, puts a different spin on it, and serves up quite an emotional impact in its short word count.