“She Used to Be Mine”: Seeking a Lost Self in “Waitress”

The powerful She Used To Be Mine is the first single from Sara Bareilles‘s new album, What’s Inside: Songs From Waitress. Next April “Waitress,” an adaptation of the 2007 non-musical movie of the same name, debuts on Broadway.

Some Important Background: The Movie in Brief

In the dramedy/romance Waitress Keri Russell plays Jenna, a young diner employee who’s unhappily married to an abusive husband. She also happens to be a marvel at making pies and often names them after her bad moods and worries; making them helps raise her spirits. Examples: I Hate My Husband Pie and Earl Murders Me Because I’m Having An Affair Pie.

The screenplay was written by Adrienne Shelly, who never got to know of its success. At the age of 40, before Waitress even made it to the Sundance Film Festival and then to theaters, she was murdered. A construction worker in her building, to whom she’d complained about bothersome noise, was found responsible. He’d hurt her in an altercation, then staged what at first seemed to be a suicide by hanging.

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: “Shelly was not just someone who happened to make a likable little movie. Like the film itself, she was seriously good, and her tragic and almost unthinkably sad murder was an incalculable loss.”

Notably, Shelly plays one of Jenna’s waitress friends in the film. The trailer:

The Musical Adaptation

The newest “Waitress” debuted this past summer at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Bareilles performed its songs in the studio for the album that was released last week.

At the point at which “She Used to Be Mine” is sung by the lead character she still has the abusive spouse and now is pregnant. That “she” is actually her. Basically, How did she (I) get so disconnected from who she (I) used to be? 

The Lyrics of “She Used to Be Mine” (Genius.com)

It’s not simple to say
That most days I don’t recognize me
That these shoes and this apron, that place and its patrons
Have taken more than I gave them
It’s not easy to know
I’m not anything like I used be, although it’s true
I was never attention’s sweet center
I still remember that girl

She’s imperfect, but she tries
She is good, but she lies
She is hard on herself
She is broken and won’t ask for help
She is messy, but she’s kind
She is lonely most of the time
She is all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie
She is gone, but she used to be mine

It’s not what I asked for
Sometimes life just slips in through a back door
And carves out a person and makes you believe it’s all true
And now I’ve got you
And you’re not what I asked for
If I’m honest, I know I would give it all back
For a chance to start over and rewrite an ending or two
For the girl that I knew

Who’ll be reckless, just enough
Who’ll get hurt, but who learns how to toughen up
When she’s bruised and gets used by a man who can’t love
And then she’ll get stuck
And be scared of the life that’s inside her
Growing stronger each day ’til it finally reminds her
To fight just a little, to bring back the fire in her eyes
That’s been gone, but used to be mine
Used to be mine

She is messy, but she’s kind
She is lonely most of the time
She is all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie
She is gone, but she used to be mine

Listen to the Song:

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