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My Gift For Amy (blog) 7-28-2013

 

“MY GIFT FOR AMY” (Blog) 7-28-2013

(Entire lyric is featured at the end of the blog). There I am, driving to the concert during rush hour, hoping to arrive in time to get into the pre-show I paid for, be fortunate enough for a roaming wireless mic to reach my hand and then hope to have the guts to request I hand off something I had spent years preparing to make, months of mind-killing labor on, and weeks of sleepless nights bringing to completion — a gift to someone very dear and seemingly unreachable to me….and all of the while knowing good and well, I could be driving back home with this little book/disc combo I created, back to my apartment with the knowledge that all of my hard work and time spent hoping may not pay off tonight the way I visualized.  After all, this COULD be ridiculous.  It COULD be impossible.  OR…it COULD be amazing.  I held tightly to the vision of door number three and prayed peace on my nerves as I got out of the car, took quick pictures with my iPhone of my gift laid out on the car seat, accepting that the dirty floor with napkins would be in the background and went to stand in line.

It’s no secret that artist and songwriter, Amy Grant, has had one of the biggest influences in my life.  She’s credited in my bios, quoted in my blogs…but how many people really know just how big her influence has been?  When I was young, people thought it was just a phase.  Goodness, ask my childhood boyfriends who endured the clothes I wore to dress like her or the girlfriends who helped me make up dance routines to her songs — they’ll tell you.  There’s no hiding my love for this woman.  Every young girl clings to something to keep herself grounded while growing up is hard and awkward.  We want to be unique while we copy those we admire.  That’s life, it’s adolescence.  So my silly, black hat and black jacket/suit combo on a hot day in the valley of California may have seemed out of place to some, but to me, I was just expressing my ability to choose my own clothes and my love for Amy Grant’s 1988/89 “Lead Me On” tour outfit.  Why not? 

Later at 15, I sported my red “Heart in Motion” dress my mom sewed for me.  It still hangs in my closet, though I don’t wear it.  But everyone has those funny stories of childhood and what we wore, right?  After all, I was in the thick of childhood during the 80’s.  Lord knows my bangs were as tall as the my hair was long (which reached to the middle of my back).  

 

 

I guess what I wanted to share with Amy when I wrote her this song and crafted the gift (book), is that so much of the important truths I’ve learned in life, I’ve learned from her.  The things in life that are important, what to do or what not to do, the importance of people, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, patience, God’s love….the list goes on and on.  If I were an author, I could have a book entitled “All I needed to know I learned from an Amy Grant song”.  It’s true.

Even the ones she didn’t write but brought into my life by choosing to record them.  And it isn’t just her songs.  It’s the woman who sings them.  Even in her struggles, I learned so much — I learned about grace, about hope…what began as a morning wake up call — my Dad waking us up to her albums in the morning as a child — was now a timeline throughout life.  It was fortunate that she had albums coming out frequently in her early career years.  It was like having a soundtrack made to my life.  I can go back and listen to “Unguarded”, and I’m instantly transported back to 9 years old — which was the year I began writing songs.  Consequently, Amy herself wrote her first song in 1976, the year of my birth.  “Hmm…that’s worth putting in the song, ” I thought to myself.

So how do you sum up over 30 years of life into one 4 minute song, set to a slow-tempo tune?  It was a really big task.  It had to be unique but not in a creepy way.  The last thing I wanted was to creep her out.  I didn’t need to impress her, either.  That wasn’t my goal.  And contrary to popular assumption, my goal wasn’t to meet her.  I got to do that in 1999.  A time when I couldn’t think of what to say because there was just TOO much to say and only 30 seconds to say it.  A couple of different times I was in the same room as her, I let everyone else talk and I just stood there and took in the scene, hanging on her words of response to people — making mental notes of what I would say if I were given more time and PLEASE….LESS PEOPLE around!  Something about a crowd…makes me emotional.  And I wanted to share a bit of my own life struggle to shine a piece on just how big the impact of her life has had on me Spiritually.

No, this had to be a special moment.  I needed to sum everything up and present it just right.  This was not a task I could do on my own.  So I involved my songwriting coach, Mark Cawley, and my good friend who is a fantastic book editor, Leanne Sype.  For at least a year, they helped me dice down what I needed to say into a small enough bite to chew.  After all, I wasn’t going to hand her a 30 page letter, front and back (yawn).  I just had to do something more creative than that.  It’s the least I can do for the musician who started me on the path to making music of my own.

It’s now Wednesday before the concert.  I had July 19th circled on my calendar for months but somehow, I was STILL not done with my gift.  The song was written.  I recorded it raw, just me and a piano, into my laptop.  I had thought I’d do a more professional recording but time was running out and crises were popping up all around that were stealing away my musician friends with good recording studios.  So now I have this simple disc….it needed more.  I wanted her to be able to read along with the lyrics but didn’t want them to get separated from the disc.  I had the idea to make a photo book online but there was no time.  By the time I finished the lyric, the possibility of waiting for something in the mail was not going to happen.  So I did what any stressed out woman would do…I got my hair done.

That is significant because if I hadn’t gotten my hair done, my hair dresser and friend, Deana, would not have helped me start into motion the reality of the scrapbook that she got me started on, the connections made with people in charge at the concert….everything that transpired from the moment I sat down in her chair to the moment I sat in that front row chair at the pre-show with my book/song in hand was thanks to her enthusiasm and the fact that she believed as Leanne and Mark believed…God was in this.  This was no longer ridiculous, or an unreachable goal.  I have learned something about God over the last year.  He actually cares about the desires of my heart, the way it talks about in Psalm 37.  But I guess somewhere along the way, if it seemed unreachable or odd to others, I considered it to be something that maybe God wasn’t really interested in — something that held MY will, MY desires, MY “fantasy”.  And since I only wanted God’s best for me, I hung up my ideas of what I desired, thinking that’s what God wanted me to do.  But sometimes, the seemingly unreachable goals ARE God’s desires for us.  God’s plans are not unreachable because He’s God.  He gives us our desires so that He can help us reach them.  When we don’t go after unreachable things, we don’t grab a hold of God’s best.  What good is a gift so boring, it’s received with a yawn?  God likes to “wow” us.  And He’s never early or late.  He waits until the exact right moment and takes our breath away, simply to delight in our delight. 

But even the miracles that transpired up to the moment of sitting on the front row did not actually give me my moment with Amy.  It was a text from a friend I’d had since jr. high.  She was the one who got to deliver the moment to me.  She wrote me a text to NOT take the microphone and ask to give my gift.  I trusted her, not knowing what the “something better” meant that she said she had for me.  Sure enough, as we all were exiting the room, she took me aside, waiting with me around the corner (her boss was THE guy in charge of the concert), brought me back into the room with about 15 other people, and held the camera as I shook the hand of the woman who had inspired me more than any other and handed her my gift. 

I’ve heard Amy is a gracious person but she’d have to be a pretty great actress if she didn’t like it.  She spent a very long time with me, talking about the song, the book I’d made, looking at every picture, reminiscing with me over the clothes I wore and taking in the sweetness of the sentiment of the more vulnerable and personal verses.

She gave me the ultimate compliment, though I’d rather not share her exact words in this setting.  But I hope she didn’t say that by being impressed.  I hope she said that out of being blessed.  She taught me so many things that got me through even the toughest times and it’s my deepest desire to show her my gratitude.  I am trusting I got to truly share my heart in the way I had hoped to for so long.  I simply have to believe it came across.

I may never hear if she actually heard the song (played the disc).  I hope she does.  But even if I never receive word to that fact, I believe she’ll get the message because God was in it from the beginning and I know He’ll see it through.

– Nicole Wells, 7/28/13

(Scroll down to view the entire lyric.  If you know me and are hoping to hear this song, we can arrange that.  I just didn’t put it up online for the world.  It truly is Amy’s gift.  The complete book is not here either.  But I’m happy to share the recording for those who would find it meaningful.)

“Song For Amy”

(Nicole Wells)

(vs 1)

I was born in ’76

You were writin’ your first song

Learnin’ how to sing your heart,

I was tryin’ out my lungs

Woke up to your voice filling the hall

You sounded like family, our morning wake up call

My favorite one of all

(Chorus)

You may never know me

I know you by heart

You’ve walked right beside me

From my very start

Taught me about grace

What I know to be true 

So much I have learned along the way

I learned from you

(vs 2)

I remember ’88 in Oakland

Your black suit, that great, black hat

Seems silly but after your show

Went out and bought me one like that

Held my hairbrush, singin’ into the mirror

Wore that black hat everyday for a couple of years

When did 13 disappear?

(Chorus 2)

You may never know me

I know you by heart

You walked right beside me

When growin’ up was hard

Taught me about grace

What I know to be true 

So much I have learned along the way

I learned from you

 (Bridge)

Learnin’ how to be the kind of girl who wears her Father’s eyes

To love a lonely day ’cause it’ll chase me to His side

I’m just here to learn to love the one who made me

And all I have to be is what He’s makin’ me to be

 (vs 3)

You were carryin’ your baby girl

I delivered my first son

As your struggle seemed to finally settle

Mine had just begun

God held me close, though my heart had been torn

You shined a hope that love can be reborn

Lives can be restored

(Last Chorus)

You may never know me

I know you by heart

You’ve  walked right beside me

Even through the toughest parts

Taught me about grace

What I know to be true 

So much I have learned along the way

I learned from you

(tag)

Amy, I just had to take this time to say…

Thank you

© 2013 Nicole Wells

Nicole Wells is a singer-songwriter, soccer mom and story teller who enjoys encouraging and entertaining others through music and testimony.  She can be booked for performances, worship leading, and speaking engagements.  www.nicolewellsmusic.com

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