Written by Samantha Godfrey. 15 April 2015.
Jake Owen’s third single from his album Barefoot Blue Night was the only song he co-wrote on this album. Owen wrote the song with professional writers, Jimmy Ritchey and Dallas Davidson. “The One That Got Away” is a reminiscence of a former lover during the narrator’s adolescent years living in a coastal area. According to co-writer Dallas Davidson, Owen “started talking about how the girls would come in for the summer. All the local guys down there would make a little summer girlfriend, but then they would leave. They would go back wherever they came from” (Conaway). After Owen’s idea, Davidson and Ritchey did their job on creating a big hit. The single debuted at number fifty-five on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for the week of May 26, 2012. It also reached number one on the Country Airplay chart. Even though the song is set near a beach, Jake Owen felt “it [did not] matter if [the setting] happened on the beach or if it happened in [a] hometown. Somebody’s got that one person that they kind of look back on and wish… wonder what would have been” (RTTNews).
Jake Owen grew up in Vero Beach, Florida, which makes this single an easy topic for him to discuss. The single is focused on the idea of falling in love, having that summer love, and never seeing them again. Davidson comments that “Jake lived [that]. [They] all had summer flings, and Jake especially because he literally was a local. All the girls would come in and fall in love with a local. Then they leave and are never to be seen again” (Conaway). With that connection, Owen was able to get personal with this single and really commit to the emotion behind it. Even with this personal connection, however, I believe that Owen was not the narrator in this track. In 2012, he became engaged, married, and a father. Thus reinforcing the idea that this song may have come from a personal experience of Owen’s, but he is not the intended narrator.
With the story line being a typically sad and nostalgic experience, Owen delivers his song as a laid back style. It seems to resemble the style of Tom Petty, taking after Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ song “I Won’t Back Down” (Conaway). Tom Petty is known for his rock, or rock n’ roll style, and “The One That Got Away” definitely fits into the sub-genre of country rock. Owen and Petty have similarities between their two songs, from their melodies to the approach they take in performing their lyrics. Comparing the two melodies, they both seem to use the same instruments of guitars and drums. Owen and Petty both use these instruments to create a catchy tune. Another resemblance Owen’s song has with Petty’s is they each use their signature sound, Petty’s nasal scream-like notes and Owen’s southern drawl that he uses to express his emotions. It is clear that Jake Owen and his team wanted to emulate the rock vibe Tom Petty puts out there.
Owen opens his song with having one guitar playing. Within seconds the single guitar is joined in by a fast melody from an electric guitar and drums. The tempo is very upbeat and plays along with the summer tropes of country music. The style of this song is an ironic choice for the universal element its lyrics present. If Owens had chosen to present this single as a slow acoustic ballad, it could have changed the entire attitude the song presents. With the chorus of “She was the one that got away/ The one that wrecked my heart/ I should have never let her go/ I should have begged her to stay/ She was the one that got away” presented in such a summertime, catchy tempo Owen portrays the narrator feeling regret, yet still moving on and living life to the fullest. It is just as a memory to him, not the most tragic event in his life. If the chorus was changed to resemble his newest single, “What We Ain’t Got,” the audience would get the feeling that the narrator was completely destroyed by that summer’s events. It would portray that he has given up on love, or life in general. Jake Owen chose to stay away from that path. While the song is presented in an up-tempo manner, there are elements that show the narrator’s pain and frustration.
One feature that portrays an aching feeling of the narrator is the bridge of the song: “Every summer that rolls around/ I’m looking over my shoulder/ Wishing I could see her face/ Wishing I could hold her.” This song would be categorized as a Verse-Chorus-Bridge, which is the popular song-form of music today due to the genre of pop. The whole point of a Verse-Chorus-Bridge song is to really put emphasis on the bridge, it is meant to show the main point/tone of the song. The bridge in this single stresses the emotion the narrator is really feeling, despite the music accompanied by these lyrics. Although, throughout the bridge the melody of the song changes turning into a lower faster tone. This change only helps back up the feelings of regret. Another aspect of frustration we can find happening is Owen’s shouting-like lyrics. Owen yells in the sixth line of both verses, but his yelling is most prominent in the repeated chorus, following the chorus after the bridge. Owen’s shouting of the chorus can be seen as anger. The narrator is in anger as if the shadow of the “one that got away” is still looming over his crestfallen heart (Dukes). Or, possibly, he is in anger over how summer flings work; even if he had begged the girl to stay with him there was not anything either of them could do to change the outcome. Owen finishes the song with a very slow repeat of Verse 1. He talks through it with just that one guitar sound, leaving the audience with the feeling that the narrator is all alone and realizes he will never see her again.
Overall, Owen’s single’s message is clear and something every audience, intended or not, can relate to. We all have that one person we wonder what would have happened with. Every story ends the same with regret and frustration for knowing there is no way to change it. Whether you are mad at the system of summer flings, or yourself, you can feel connected to “The One That Got Away.” It is simple in this way, and therefore what led to its popularity.
|0:00||Intro||Single guitar chords||A single guitar is joined in by various instruments, such as drums, a tambourine, and an electric guitar. Sets the pace for the song.|
|0:15||Verse 1||“She rolled in…”||Owen puts his signature southern drawl on the words: “town,” “down,” “months,” and “goodbye.” The melody changes a bit when he sings the line: “Well it was magic in the air” during the fifth line. Owen also yells while he is singing the lyrics of “caught my eye.”|
|0:47||Chorus||“She was the one that got away…”||The beat picks up and emphasizes the chorus. On the fifth line he really drags at the last word “away.” For the sixth line, he repeats what he said in the fifth as if it is a confirmation of regret.|
|1:06||Verse 2||“Well she kissed my lips…”||Like in Verse 1, Owen puts a southern drawl on the words of some ending lines, such as “Drive,” “July,” “did,” and “tide.” Again, in the fifth line of the verse the melody changes. Also, Owen yells while he is singing in the same place he had in Verse 1. The lyrics this time are: “star-soaked sky.”|
|1:39||Chorus||“She was the one that got away…”||The same melody and lyrics for the chorus. However, the fifth line is not repeated like it was in the first chorus. There is also a faster transition into the next song form.|
|1:56||Bridge||“Every summer that rolls around…”||The tone drops and the tempo becomes faster. It is a different beat. In the fourth line Owen really drawls out the word “her.” It is the longest in the song. There is about three drum beats to transition to the next form.|
|2:14||Chorus||“She was the one that got away…”||Tempo and beat returns back to the same melody of the previous choruses. In the first and second lines, there is someone repeating the ending of the lyrics: “got away” and “my heart.” Owen also drawls out the last word of the chorus, “away.” There is no repeated line again.|
|2:30||Repeated Chorus||“She was the one that got away…”||Tempo almost seems faster, but the melody is the same. Owen is completely yelling while screaming this entire chorus. It is the most prominent feature throughout the song. Instead of having the background singer repeat parts of the lines, like in the previous chorus, the singer repeats the entire lines of one and two after Owen. In the sixth line, the repeating of line five comes back.|
|2:50||Repeated Verse 1||“She rolled in…”||The same repeat of Verse 1. However, this verse is cut in half. This repeated verse only has the lines one through four. As the verse progresses the tempo seems to get slower with the instruments winding down. He really uses his southern drawl on the last words “houses down” to finish the song.|
|3:06||Outro||Strung out guitar note||Contains strung out notes from the instruments in the previous form. No new chords are added. The lasting notes are then faded out.|
Conaway, Alanna. “Jake Owen, ‘The One That Got Away’ – Lyrics Uncovered.” Taste of Country. N.p., 2 Apr. 2012. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.
Dukes, Billy. “Jake Owen, ‘The One That Got Away’ – Song Review.” Taste of Country. N.p., 31 Mar. 2012. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.
“Jake Owen Says ‘The One That Got Away’ Is A True Story.” RTTNews. RTTNews, 27 May 2012. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.
“The One That Got Away (Jake Owen Song).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.