The Story Behind Cam’s Heartbreaking Single, ‘Diane’

Cam's hit "Diane" was inspired by a friend's real-life situation from more than 20 years ago when her father left her mother for another woman.

Written by Annie Reuter
The Story Behind Cam’s Heartbreaking Single, ‘Diane’
Cam; Photo by Dennis Leupold

“Diane” is the first single off Cam’s forthcoming sophomore album and the song packs a punch with a powerful storyline that tugs on the listener’s emotions. A heartbreaking tale that has a woman apologizing to her boyfriend’s wife after discovering he’s married, Cam has said “Diane” is the response to Dolly Parton’s 1973 hit “Jolene.” And, as it turns out, even the country legend is a fan of the song.

Dolly met Diane. I will be framing this.

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Cam released the track late last year and while “Diane” is refreshingly upbeat, when listening closer to the lyrics a dark story emerges. Cam penned the song with Jeff Bhasker and Tyler Johnson, the same songwriters she teamed up with for her debut No. 1 hit “Burning House.” During Sony Music Nashville’s showcase at the 2018 Country Radio Seminar in Nashville in February, Cam told the story of how “Diane” came to be.

“This is basically ‘Jolene’ in reverse,” Cam said to the packed room at CMA Hall of Fame Theater. “I’m the other woman and I’m coming forward and I’m saying to the wife, ‘The guy I’ve been seeing, I didn’t realize he was married. It turns out it’s your husband and I think you should know.’ It’s this whole really intense narrative that’s happening while it’s an upbeat song. It’s like great old school country where you’re dancing and then you’re like, ‘Oh, this is really dark shit!’ I’m so tickled with that. I really enjoy that part.”

“Oh, I promise I didn’t know he was your man / I would have noticed a gold wedding band, Diane / I’d rather you hate me than not understand,” Cam sings on the song’s opening.

Cam further explained that the song was inspired by a real-life situation that a friend dealt with as a young girl.
“A good friend of mine, when she was about nine, her dad came home and said, ‘The secretary is pregnant and I’m leaving your mom.’ That first Mother’s Day came around and her mom got them all dressed up and said, ‘We’re going to go over and wish them a Happy Mother’s Day, ’cause I’m not going to let you lose your relationship with your dad,'” Cam told a captivated audience.

She added that over the 25 years since this revelation happened, no member of the family ever had a real conversation about the situation. Instead, they swept their family drama under the rug never to speak about again.

“We have all these country songs about this but nobody wants to talk about this. It’s so much shame,” she noted.
“Even if you’re the one that was cheated on, it just ends up being something that’s hard to talk about.”

The call 📞 #Diane (link in bio)

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Since releasing the song to country radio in December, Cam has opened the door to the often difficult conversation of cheating and has learned that many people have had similar experiences to the plotline within her song. While she’s thankful the song has already been covered favorably by several media outlets, she says she’s more appreciative at how country fans have embraced “Diane” and often sing the lyrics back to her each night.

“Starting out, people are owning these lyrics at such a level that it makes me feel so fulfilled,” she marveled. “It’s a really cool thing and that’s what I see in these people emailing me [and saying], ‘You don’t know this, but this is my story.’ It’s really personal. It’s a real pleasure to be able to put out a song like this. When you really stick to your gut and you put something out, it’s really nice to have it soundboard back to you.”