Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires are divorcing after marital struggles chronicled in songs


Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires, whose marital woes went public around the release of his 2020 album “Reunions,” are headed separate ways in their personal lives after he filed for divorce.

The “Cover Me Up” singer-songwriter filed for dissolution of his second marriage on Dec. 15, according to online court records from Williamson County, Tenn., just south of Nashville.

Isbell, who branched out last year to play Bill Smith in Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon,” married Shires, a singer-songwriter and violinist, in 2013 after the two had worked together off and on for years. The 45-year-old musician previously was married to musician Shonna Tucker from 2002 to 2007.

Shires assembled the female supergroup the Highwomen, which also included Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby and Maren Morris. The 41-year-old musician has been a member of Isbell’s band the 400 Unit and was the inspiration for his tune “Cover Me Up,” which was covered with great success by Morgan Wallen on his “Dangerous” album.

“Put your faith to the test when I tore off your dress / In Richmond on high,” go some lyrics from “Cover Me Up,” which came out on Isbell’s album “Southeastern” in 2013. “But I sobered up and I swore off that stuff / Forever this time. / And the old lovers sing, ‘I thought it’d be me / Who helped him get home.’ / But home was a dream, one I’d never seen / ‘Til you came along.”

Isbell famously sobered up after an intervention in 2012, which influenced the songs on “Southeastern.” That sobriety “made all the difference,” he told The Times in 2016. “I had so much time and so much focus that I didn’t have before. That was really the story. It gave me a story to tell, and it gave people a reason to root for me.”

But during the pandemic, Shires pinned index cards with promising song ideas on her walls, she told The Times in 2022. Some of those referenced how distant her marriage to Isbell had become. Still, he played guitar when she recorded “Fault Lines” for her solo record “Take It Like a Man.”

“You could say it’s all my fault / We just couldn’t get along / And if anyone asks, I’ll say what’s true / And really, it’s I don’t know,” the lyrics to “Fault Lines” read.

“At one point, I said, ‘It’d be easier if somebody had cheated,’” Isbell told the New York Times in May 2020 around the release that month of “Reunions.” “Then we could say, ‘You did this,’ or ‘I did this,’ and ‘Somebody needs to be real sorry.’ But it was more like, ‘We don’t know each other right now. We’re not able to speak the same language.’”

“He was impossible,” Shires told NYT about her partner’s behavior while recording. “It was like he wanted help but didn’t want help.”

The 2023 documentary “Running With Our Eyes Closed” — shot when Isbell was recording “Reunions” and during the early part of the pandemic — revealed that the couple had been close to divorce at that time.

Isbell and Shires share an 8-year-old daughter, Mercy.



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