UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - MAY 10: Singer Faith Hill and singer Loretta Lynn attend the 30th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards on May 10, 1995 at the Universal Amphitheatre in Universal City, California.
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Faith Hill's 'Mississippi Girl': The 'Coal Miner's Daughter' of the 21st Century


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When Faith Hill's 2005 single "Mississippi Girl" became her eighth No. 1 country hit as a solo artist, CNN and the BBC likened its lyrics about a global celebrity who hasn't lost sight of their humble beginnings to those of Jennifer Lopez's "Jenny From the Block." Yet in the broader picture of both Hill's career and country music, it's more akin to a timeless anthem about regional pride and rural identity: Loretta Lynn's "Coal Miner's Daughter."

The first single from 2005's Fireflies, "Mississippi Girl" followed the adult contemporary success of two prior albums and their title tracks, Breathe (1999) and Cry (2002). Thus, it comes across as an intentionally-timed identity song by an artist who never got above her raising despite fame that transcended country radio.

John Rich of Big & Rich wrote the song with Hill's life story in mind alongside fellow MuzikMafia member Adam Shoenfeld.

"Faith asked me to write a song for that where it would only make sense if she was the one singing it," Rich told Wide Open Country. "I spent a few days thinking about it, and I realized that most of her fans only knew the superstar stage version of Faith and not the regular country girl who we all saw backstage with her family. The first line in the song made it a song that only she could sing: 'It's a long way from Star, Miss.' When I played the song for her in a parking lot before a concert, she teared up a little and said, 'That's perfect!' The rest is history. It's one of my favorite songs I've ever written, and she's one of my favorite artists without a doubt."

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The song's official music video amplifies its main lyrical theme (down home versus big city) by alternating clips of Hill amid wildflowers and butterflies with those of an over-the-top live performance that looks like something off the TV series Nashville. Its instrumentation points back to classic country, thanks in large part to mandolin accompaniment by Darrell Scott.

From start to finish, the album Fireflies embraces a more traditional take on country music in a pop-friendly marketplace, from the Lori McKenna-penned title track to sarcastic foot-stomper "Dearly Beloved" and the heartfelt Tim McGraw collaboration "Like We Never Loved at All." Focusing more on her home state bonafides didn't sacrifice sales for Hill, as the album reached the pinnacle of both the Top Country Albums and all-genre Billboard 200 en route to double platinum certification.

Beyond its commercial success, "Mississippi Girl" earned its singer and songwriters critical acclaim and industry honors, including a Grammy nomination and a SESAC Country Song of the Year award.

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Hill previously topped Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart with "Wild One" (1993), "Piece of My Heart" (1994), "It Matters to Me" (1995), "This Kiss" (1998), "Let Me Let Go" (1998), "Breathe" (1999) and "The Way You Love Me" (2000). She was featured on two additional No. 1s: McGraw duet "It's Your Love" (1997) and a hit featuring 30 different past and present country acts, "Forever Country" (2016).

Circling back to the "Coal Miner's Daughter" comparison, "Mississippi Girl" follows Lynn's lead by incorporating sentimentality for home as well as personal ownership of what it fully means to be country. Pop culture has changed over time and nuance exists, so it's not like Hill made a carbon copy of a classic. However, she at least read off the same page as Lynn while establishing that country fans in 2005 related to a Star, Miss. native, just as they connected in 1970 with the pride of Butcher Hollow, Ky.

READ MORE: 12 Modern Songs That Shatter 'Real Country Music' Myths

"Mississippi Girl" Lyrics

Well, it's a long way from Star, Miss.
To the big stage I'm singing on tonight
And sometimes the butterflies still get me
When I'm in the spotlight

And some people seem to think that I've changed
That I'm different than I was back then
But in my soul, I know that I'm the same way
That I've really always been

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'Cause a Mississippi girl don't change her ways
Just 'cause everybody knows her name
Ain't big headed from a little bit of fame
I still like wearing my old ball cap
Riding my kids around piggy back
They might know me all around the world
But, y'all, I'm still a Mississippi girl

Well, I spent a few weeks in California
They put my face on the big movie screen
But that don't mean I've forgotten where I came from
That's just me chasing dreams

'Cause a Mississippi girl don't change her ways
Just 'cause everybody knows her name
Ain't big headed from a little bit of fame
I still like wearing my old ball cap
Riding my kids around piggy back
They might know me all around the world
But, y'all, I'm still a Mississippi girl

'Cause a Mississippi girl don't change her ways
Just 'cause everybody knows her name
Ain't big headed from a little bit of fame
Still like wearing my old ball cap
Riding my kids around piggy back
They might know me all around this world
But, y'all, I'm still a Mississippi girl

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