Interview: Alana Springsteen Channels Her Whole Heart Into New ‘History of Breaking Up (Part One)’ EP
Alanna Springsteen finds the beauty in sadness on her impressive new EP, History of Breaking Up (Part One).
Long before romantic relationships became a part of her life, music was Springsteen’s first love. The Virginia Beach, Va., native got her first guitar at the age of seven, and by the time she was nine, she was writing her own songs; she made Music City her permanent residence and signed a publishing deal at the mere age of 14.
Now a bright-eyed 20-year-old days shy of her 21st birthday at the time of publication, Springsteen already has a wealth of knowledge about love and its impact on her life.
“Love is something that's always inspired me the most. I really think we all have experienced so many of these emotions going through love. It's such a big part of life,” Springsteen shared in a recent phone interview, her enthusiasm radiating through the speaker. “This project encapsulates my journey in love so far through my life, and it's constantly changing.
"I think your perspective and how you process all the emotions that come along with heartbreak and falling in love with somebody changes as you get older and with every single relationship," she continues. "Every time I fall in love, I feel like I learn new things about myself and look at love differently.”
Springsteen's History of Breaking Up (Part One) EP chronicles the journey of a young woman falling in and out of love, and processing the varying emotions that go with that experience. The young singer admits that she didn’t approach the EP with the concept of crafting it around a breakup in mind; rather, the material revealed itself during the process.
The seven-song endeavor begins with “California,” a smoothly produced pop-country number that sets the scene of a couple falling in love with the blue ocean and the Pacific Coast Highway as the backdrop. But the subject matter goes deeper than a simple story of young love: The protagonist is pondering if what she’s feeling is truly love, or if she's simply swept up in the fantasy of the environment around her.
“It encapsulates who I am as a person: I get caught up in my feelings. I get lost in moments. I think a lot of us do," Springsteen says of the song, which she describes as a "love letter to the West Coast."
"Sometimes you find yourself in these moments that it's almost like everything feels so perfect, so too good to be true," she adds. "I think some things are only magic for just that moment in time and are just meant to be during that period. But sometimes it's hard to take yourself out of it and be like, ‘Is this real, or is it all in my head?’”
Exploration and vulnerability are embedded throughout the project, but perhaps no more prevalently than in “God Must Be Mad at Me.” A steel guitar greets listeners as Springsteen delivers the gut-wrenching opening line: “God must be mad at me / ‘Cause I don’t why you wouldn’t love me.”
Evoking a sense of brokenness and the feeling that Heaven is out of reach, Springsteen takes listeners on the journey of falling deeply in love with someone only to have that love fade away, leaving her sorrowful and nursing a broken heart.
“I found myself where you sometimes feel like something is so meant to be, you can't see it going another way, and then it does and it's really hard to come to terms with that. It's hard to find explanations. You're looking for reasons, and sometimes it doesn't feel like there is one other than maybe God is mad at me," Springsteen expresses, comparing "God Must Be Made at Me" to a diary entry. "It's how you feel in that moment in a really raw and open way. That's one of the most vulnerable moments on this project, and a really important piece that I wanted to show my fans about me.”
"Homesick," meanwhile, finds Springsteen replaying the happy memories of a failed relationship over again in her mind, but also acknowledging that the only way to move on is to move forward. “I Blame You” takes a lighter tone, as she's unable to get the person who’s stolen her heart off her mind. But the album’s closer, “Zero Trucks,” is the real stunner.
Co-written over Zoom during the COVID-19 quarantine in 2020 with Walker Hayes and Joe Clemmons, the song finds Springsteen letting her guard down in a different way. Hayes’ brand of lyrical tricks and clever wordplay guide the celebratory anthem, in which Springsteen bids a happy adieu to an unfulfilling relationship.
“Kiss her back in the bed looking up at a million stars around / I’ll be in the club getting low with my friends on the floor / Giving zero trucks,” Springsteen confidently informs listeners. She says she doesn’t often write such tongue-in-cheek material, but she felt like the song was a natural fit for her EP given its theme of finding happiness and independence within yourself.
"It's a really different perspective on a breakup," Springsteen says of "Zero Trucks." "Sometimes you break up with somebody and you realize how much better you are without them in your life. [A] breakup can mean getting back to you, getting back to the people that love you most and the things that you care about, and there’s a lot of hope in that, not needing someone and being totally happy where you are with yourself and your friends and where you are in life.
"I wanted to leave the listeners with a smile on your face at the end of this project,” she continues, calling Hayes "one of my favorite human beings in town."
"He's so genuine and the picture of being true to yourself as an artist," Springsteen praises. "I think that's why people gravitate toward him so much, and it's something that I want to do with my artistry too.”
History of Breaking Up (Part One) is a strong next step in Springsteen's country music career, wherein she presents herself as a self-assured songwriter who knows how to write for the modern country landscape with the best of them but also contribute a personal touch that leaves you wanting to hear more of the story.
"I think through the process of writing these songs, I realized things about myself as I was writing it," Springsteen says. "Sometimes, I'll be in the middle of the songs, and I'll write a line and I'm like, ‘I didn't even realize how true that was to me until I wrote it down on paper and I saw it,’ and your mind has the ability to be so free.
"I think connection is the biggest thing to me and why I do what I do," she continues. "That’s my goal at the end of the day with my music, is, if I can inspire somebody else out there to believe in themselves and chase their dreams and find their passions and want to throw themselves into it. My goal with the EP is that if one person finds a piece of their story in one of these songs, it's a win for me. That's all I could ever hope for.”
History of Breaking Up (Part One) is available now. Springsteen is set to open for pop group LANY on select dates of their gg bb xx Tour in October.