“The House That Built Me” by Miranda Lambert is a song that tells the story of a woman going back to visit her childhood home after experiencing life as an adult. The speaker discusses how she identifies her home with the memories and experiences that have molded her into the person she becomes, but she feels that something is missing from her life. She believes that going back to “the house” will help her recover her true sense of self. When my childhood home was sold, I experienced a deep sense of loss. Like the speaker in the song, I felt that I was missing pieces of myself for many years afterwards. Just as the speaker learns that it is not the tangible house that keeps her memories alive, but herself, I eventually learned that while letting go of the “house” I grew up in was difficult, I would carry the memories and experiences of growing up there within my heart.
In the opening verse of the song, the speaker discusses the need to see her childhood home at least once more before moving on with her life. She shares with the current homeowner some of her experiences while growing up in the house. For instance, she says, “I know they say you can’t go home again, but I just had to come back one last time.” This shows that the speaker realizes that returning “home” is going to be a different experience than it was when she lived there, but she cannot resist the temptation of a final visit to the “house”. The speaker says that “Up those stairs in that little back bedroom, is where I did my homework and learned to play guitar. And I bet you didn’t know, under that live oak, my favorite dog is buried in the yard.” This indicates some of the significant memories the speaker has of her time in the house, such as honing her craft as a musician and the loss of her beloved pet.
The chorus of the song explains how the speaker feels that a visit to the house may help her to reconnect to a part of her past that will remind her of who she truly is. For instance, she says, “I thought if I could touch this place or feel it, this brokenness inside me might start healing. Out here it’s like I’m someone else, I thought that maybe I could find myself.” This implies that the speaker feels that she has lost her identity and she does not know who she is anymore; she feels disconnected from her roots. The speaker goes on to say that “If I could just come in I swear I’ll leave, won’t take nothing but a memory from the house that built me.” This shows how the speaker is reassuring the current occupant of the house that she means no harm; she only wants one final moment to reminisce in the place that holds many memories for her.
In the second verse the speaker talks about the careful planning that goes into the construction of her home. For instance, she says “Mama cut out pictures of houses for years, from ‘Better Homes and Garden Magazine’. Plans were drawn and concrete poured, and nail by nail and board by board Daddy gave life to Mama’s dream”. ...