“What Hurts the Most”

Written by Zane Gurwitz. 11 October 2014.

In 2006 the Rascal Flatts released the album Me and My Gang, which contained one of their most popular songs “What Hurts The Most”. This song “reached number 1 on the Adult Contemporary charts” and “NO. 6 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100” according to Wikipedia. This song is has a very slow tempo with a depressing storyline. If interpreted literally, it is sung from the perspective of a teenage girl who lost her boyfriend in a car accident. She sings about the suffering and pain of living without him in her life. The song is in a first person point of view as the girl sings to her deceased boyfriend “Who are very much in love” according to the Lyric Interpretations website. However, this is not distinct within the song, but rather on the music video instead. But, this song has much a deeper meaning to the style and structure.

To begin, this song is formatted with a verse-chorus structure. This song follows the more traditional country song format that starts with a verse and leads into the chorus. It has no intro words but leads straight into the first chorus. This type of structure consists of a combination of versus and choruses. The structure of the song is as follows: Verse one, chorus, verse two, chorus, chorus, and outro.

The song begins with a 16 second intro with drums and guitar in the background with a main focus on the violin. The violin is played slowly with a low and depressing melody to set the tone for the rest of the song. As we enter into verse one the violin fades away, the drums and the guitar are played in the background. Lead singer, Gary LeVox, starts the song with a simple and pleasant toned voice, as if he were just speaking to another person. In the second half of verse one LeVox changes his delivery by taking less breaths and speeds up his words and starts to build louder and louder into the chorus. While he starts to sing louder, the drums and guitar build along with LeVox to really build into the chorus and show to the audience what the song is depicting which is a man who seems to have lost a soulmate.

As the chorus starts LeVox’s delivery becomes much louder beginning with “What hurts the most.” This is to display that regardless of any other pain “she” feels, what hurts the most was not being able to tell him all the her feelings. But most importantly, what hurts her the most is him not recognizing that all she was trying to do in their relationship was just show love to him, before he passed away. In a more surface level meaning, it can apply to any love story in which a person does not get to say the things they want too before the one they love leaves.

The electric guitar is introduced now during the chorus in the background, along with the steady beat of the drum. The tempo really picks up during the chorus and does not really display the somber melody from verse one. As chorus one ends there is a brief moment of no words. The violin is introduced back in and plays the same slow and depressing melody from the intro to bring the song back down to a more somber mood.

Verse two is basically identical in sound to verse one. The only sound difference is the addition of a high pitch steel guitar instrument. I believe this is to show a difference between verse one and two rather than the words. Just as verse one does, the ending of verse two starts to pick up and leads into the chorus again. However, LeVox ends the chorus with a long “ooooo” sound that builds into an electric guitar solo. During this guitar solo, LeVox uses a filler belting out “Oh Yeah.” This leads right into the chorus being repeated. He changes his delivery and projects his voice when singing “was being so close.” On those words, the music cuts off and its just LeVox singing loudly for emphasis. During the outro of the song, for one line, we hear the backup singers sing in a much calmer and softer tone “Not seein’ that lovin’ you.” After the outro, the violin in brought back in to finish the song with the same melody as the introduction.

Throughout the song, LeVox’s delivery is very clear but changes at times for effect. He fluctuates it mainly during the chorus and near the end of the song. However, the song its self and the meaning are unclear unless you watch the music video. Levox does a good job of being pronouncing his words with much clarity. The only time that clarity is challenged is when interpreting the meaning of the song. This song is unique because it can relate to so many different instances from two lovers being separated or just a lover losing a loved one from fatal accident. I think the music video and the song separate for a reason. Rascal Flatts want as many people as possible to relate to the song, most can relate to losing someone they loved but not in a car accident such as the music video. There is never a doubt of what words he is singing. LeVox also uses correct language but ends a lot of –ing words with –in’ such as “lovin” to add a more country flair to the song.

Time Form Listening Cues Discussion
0:47 Introduction Violin A violin starts the intro to the song with a simple beat of the drums in the background.
1:04 Verse 1 “I can take the ran…” The violin in halted and the background music soft with a guitar and drum as LeVox begins the first verse.
1:32 Chorus “What hurts the most…” LeVox starts the chorus off strong. The banjo and steel guitar are brought into the chorus.
3:01 Verse 2 “It’s hard to deal…” The banjo is left out but the steel guitar is kept in for a light strum in the background. The same guitar and drum beat from verse one are present in verse 2.
3:31 Chorus “What hurts the most…” The banjo is brought back into play as LeVox comes in strong again for the second chorus.
4:19 Chorus “What hurts the most…” LeVox really belts out his voice at the end of this chorus for a strong lead into the ending of the song.
4:46 Outro  “Not seein’ that lovin’…” The rest of the band members join in for the outro and close the song.

Works Cited

“Rascal Flatts – What Hurts the Most Lyrics Meaning.” RSS. N.p., 8th Aug. 2006. Web. 06 Nov. 2014.

“What Hurts the Most.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Jan. 2014. Web. 06 Nov. 2014.