"If I Didn't Know Better" (CD Single)



Sultry, bluesy song with mature message.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The message is mixed, especially when it comes to making an ethical decision. Following your heart is one thing, but engaging in a lusty affair is another.

Positive role models

Someone's not being honest, and others are destined to get hurt in this love triangle: "There's a hole in what you're saying, I can plainly see/ You have a lover that's waiting but baby you're right here with me."

Not applicable

While no sexual language is used, the message is clear: "If I didn't know better I'd hang my hat right there/ If I didn't know better I'd follow you up the stairs." Lyrics suggest infidelity and multiple sexual partners: "There's a hole in what you're saying, I can plainly see/ You have a lover that's waiting but baby you're right here with me." There's also shared blame/guilt for this mutual seduction: "(Female character) Ooh, you might as well be the devil, oh, keeping me out past three/ (Male character) Oh, you're the one with that apple, so baby you can't blame me."


Mild language: "If I didn't know better, but damn it, I do."


Originally released in 2009 by the band the Civil Wars, this song landed in the premiere of the ABC drama series Nashville in 2012.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Lyrics suggest drinking as a way to help weigh life's dilemmas: "Why do I keep drinking, wastin' my time on you?" Alcohol is mentioned a seductive lubricant: "Why don't you keep drinking, Get me one night with you ..."

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that “If I Didn't Know Better" is a sultry song featured on the premiere of the ABC drama series Nashville. Originally written and performed by the Nashville band the Civil Wars in 2009, the song's a steamy duet between two people on the verge of having an affair -- the woman's hesitant but flirtatious, while the man's suggestive and persistent. While there's no direct sexual language here, the song's message of temptation and seduction is palpable, so it's best for teens and up.

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What's the story?

"If I Didn't Know Better" is a 2009 single written by songwriters John Paul White and Arum Rae and performed by the band the Civil Wars. The song was featured on the premiere of the ABC drama series Nashville.

Is it any good?


Mix the mood of "Summertime" with the seduction of "Let's Get It On" and you've got "If I Didn't Know Better." This bluesy/jazzy duet swoons with acoustic guitar, piano, and strings, with lyrics that leave an ache that's nearly impossible to ignore. This song shines in its simplicity, raw emotion, and chemistry. It's an irresistible mix that'll leave you hankering for more.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the meaning of the song's title, "If I Didn't Know Better." Do you think it means that someone has an instinct to avoid something, but is tempted to try it anyhow? What are some consequences of ignoring your instincts or acting on an impulse?

  • What’s the mood of this song, and what makes it feel the way it does? Is it the music, the lyrics, or what the singers are saying to each other?

  • This song was performed in the premiere of the TV show Nashville. If you've seen the show, do you think the song fits the show's storyline? Why or why not?

Music details

Artists:Clare Bowen, Sam Palladio
Release date:October 22, 2012
Label:Big Machine Records
Parental advisory:No
Edited version available:No

This review of "If I Didn't Know Better" (CD Single) was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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