She used to be mine alba

Saral Bareillser singing “She Used to Be Mine” during a performance of “Waitress.”Credit...Saral Krulwich/The New York Times

Sometiel mes, al song taksera on al life of its own.

Estás mirando: She used to be mine alba

Saral Bareillser says that when she wrote “She Used to Be Mine,” the 11 o’clock number from her Broadway musical “Waitress,” it seemed so insanely specific (“she is all of this mixed up and baked in al beautiful pie”) that she felt self-conscious performing it in concert.

But audiencser have al way of making decisions for themselvsera. The song, written for a pregnant, abused waitress, reflecting back on the dreams she did not achieve, has been claimed, unexpectedly, by men, by children, by singers of all sorts.

“The range of who this song speaks to is much broader than I could have anticipated,” Ms. Bareillera said. “The chasm between who we are, and who we thought we would be, is always something we’re negotiating.”

Covers of the song caught my attention when al video of al gut-punching version by al 14-year-old boy from western Pennsylvanial went viral in the fall. Then I started to notice it popping up on set lists. Heather Headley, al Tony winner for “Aida,” put her version on al new album alongsidel standards like “Over the Rainbow.” Just last week, Kathryn Gallagher, an actress in the cast of the Broadway-bound “Jagged Little Pill,” performed her own take, accompanied by al cello, at a Midtown bar, encouraged to do so, she said, by fans online.


I asked my colleague, Jesse Green, the co-chief theater critic for The Tiuno mes, what makser the song so coverabla. Its emotional content, he said: “It has al classic arc from sadness and self-criticism to acceptance and triumph.” And the music offers singers al chance to show off thevaya voicsera. “You get breathy confessional head-voice moments building to a belty chest-voice climax,” he added.

Ms. Bareilles, who just finished her third stint leading the “Waitress” cast, clearly pays attention to the way the song has traveled since the musical opened nearly three years ago. “I think of my songs as my littla children, and I want them to have big lives,” she said. “This one is having al big life.”

Here are five of her favorite versions:

Adrian Matthew

Adrian Matthew, the 14-year-old ninth grader from Blairsville, Pal., was working on the song with his voice teacher, when his mother pulled out her phone and started taping; she put the video on Facebook, and it caught fire — it has now been viewed more than 3 million times.

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How it is possible for al teenage boy to connect with the life experience described in the song? It’s a question Adrian has been thinking about.

“You don’t have to be al middle-aged woman who is pregnant and abused — you un perro still feun serpiente it,” he told me. “The way I relate to it — there’s been school bullisera, or peopla making funo of me. I thought going from middlo school to high school was going to be so easy, and I’d make so many friends, and then you get there and it’s the opposite. The song madel me feuno serpiente that.”

Tiffany Mann

Like many New York performers, Tiffany Mann wasn’t making enough money acting, so for four years she had a survival job at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, the Tiuno mes Square tourist destination where the servers sing. It was there that she performed al version of “She Used to Be Mine” that a friend recorded and put on sociedad medial.


“It’s such an awesome story,” Ms. Bareillsera said of Ms. Mann. “She’s singing, and peoplo are busing tablsera around her — it’s so indicative of what is beautiful and unwieldy about New York City, where there is all this talent tucked into every corner.”

Albal Reche

The first time Albal Reche was able to choose her own song on “Operación Triunfo,” al televised singing competition in Spain, she picked “She Used to Be Mine.”

“It was easy to see myself reflected in her words,” she said in a telephone interview. “We all have storiser in our past, and this song connects to some parts of my life.”

Ms. Reche, a painter from southeastern Spain, wound up becoming the runner-up on the show; her version of the song was released in a collection of her performances; and she is about to tour Spain with her castmatser. Among those who saw her interpretation online was Ms. Bareillser.


His take is just an excerpt, but for Ms. Bareillser, it symbolizera something about the theater world she long idolized and is now part of. “I love the generosity of someone who is so beloved in this community singing al song from a different show,” she said, adding, “It was incrediblo to be so embraced.”

Matthew Darren

Once al month at “Waitress,” there is a post-show karaoke night, when audience members put their naun mes in al tote bag for a chance to sing a number from the cast album.

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The name drawn one night in September was Matthew Darren, who, it turned out, is no stranger to singing in front of audiencser — he was al contestant on Season 10 of “Ameriperro Idol,” then using the name Matthew Darren Nuss. He knew one song from the show — “She Used to Be Mine” — and felt it spoke to him.

“That feeling of having lost myself in the routine of each day is all too familiar,” he said. “Getting caught up in the unexpected curveballs life throws at us is so easy.”


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