Rachel Wammack is a rising star: She's part of CMT's 2019 Next Women of Country group, one of Bobby Bones' Class of 2019 artists and just wrapped up a tour with Brett Young. Before all of those achievements, however, came her debut single, "Damage."

"Damage" is a piano ballad from a bartender's perspective, about the humans on the other side of the bar. Read on to find out the real-life experience Wammack had that led her to write the track.

When I first moved to Nashville, I didn’t have a deal, although I had been mentored throughout college by Jim Catino [now executive vice president, A&R] at Sony Music Nashville. So I had one person that I knew in the industry when I moved, but they weren’t offering a deal. So I just got a job as a bartender.

I’d never been a bartender before; I’d been a hostess at different restaurants. I was not a good bartender, and I was told I was not a good bartender, which is -- whatever, you know, that’s fine. It’s honest. But I love people. That is an aspect of the job that I didn’t realize I was going to love / hate so much. Being in the restaurant industry, you get all types of people.

But, it was a hotel bar in [the Nashville neighborhood of] Green Hills ... There were lots of people coming in for business that would stay for weeks at a time, and they became regulars and became my friends. It was just really amazing hearing lots of stories, which I mention quite literally in the song, like the prodigal just trying to find some shelter, the woman who was sick with cancer and all these different stories. You can’t put every story in the song, but I was hoping the ones we did put in would relate to people as they hear the song, whether you’ve been affected directly or indirectly.

I bartended for a year and ended up getting my deal with Sony. That whole year, I had wished that I had gone ahead and gotten my deal. It was like I learned throughout the year that listening to people tell me their stories and things that are going on with them was a gift. I never thought about listening being a gift like that, but it was, and [I] ended up writing that song about being a bartender.

The whole thing is the truth, obviously. "I’m a bartender and best friend pretender" was such a piercing lyric for me because I don’t want people to think that I was fake or that bartenders are fake, but you just kind of end up being like that for someone. I had questioned if I should put "ear-lender" or "best friend pretender," and we were like, it has to be best friend pretender. I loved being someone that people could pour out to, and I didn’t realize that would be the job. We aren’t all that different.

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