BETWEEN THE LINER NOTES
Amy Grant: Somewhere Down the Road
By Hannah Goodwyn
With a career of more than 30 years, Amy Grant is the best-selling Contemporary Christian music singer to date. Not only is Grant known among churchgoers, but she's also a legend in mainstream music as well. In 2006, Amy Grant received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, after selling more than 25 millions records worldwide (she's up to 30 million now). Her veteran status is evident in her gold, platinum, and multi-platinum album collection, No. 1 hits, and prestigious award wins: six Grammys and numerous Dove Awards.
Recently, CBNmusic chatted with the songstress about her newly released CD, Somewhere Down the Road, which features six new songs, two previously unreleased songs, a new recording of "Arms of Love", and three of her "best loved story-songs".
Amy, you’ve said that the intent of the album is to show a life journey. What specifically will listeners experience as they travel this road with you?
Well, I don’t know. I mean, how we absorb music is unique. I know what I do. When I’m listening to music, I tend to find myself in a song. That’s what really makes you connect is if you feel what that song is saying.
What’s your hope for Somewhere Down the Road?
I don’t even try to over think it that much. I just try to put together a collection of songs that I feel like represented the struggle of life, the joy of life, which always goes hand in hand, especially if you are invested in the lives of other people, like your extended family. Somebody is always at the top of their game, and somebody is barely hanging on. So even in good times, you feel the impact of “everybody’s not at the same place.” So my hope is just for those songs to provide companionship, remind myself and whoever else is listening what’s important. I feel like songs have the ability to connect us to ourselves and to each other, and to our faith, to the love of Jesus, in a way that conversation doesn’t do. Songs kind of slip in and move you before you realize it.
Family is a big part of life's journey, and of course, I heard your daughter singing with you on “Overnight.” You've said that it's about appreciating the process. Tell me a little bit more about that song.
I’ve loved Sarah’s voice since I heard her sing for the first time two years ago, and the challenge was to find a song that we could both sing with fun and conviction, because how she feels about life at 17 is different than the way I feel about it at 49. It’s so much ahead for her, so much undiscovered. But that song, the initial idea came from Natalie Hemby, Luke Laird, Alder Speilman, her co-writers. And I just was so captured by the melody and the idea of it, and just asked if we could rewrite the back half.
Life is a process, and you just take it a day at a time, and you can’t live in tomorrow, and you can’t reach back and be in yesterday. No matter how much you want to, you just have what’s right there in front of you.
What was going on behind “Better than a Hallelujah” that caused you to want to put it out as the first single?
That song was written by Sarah Hart and Chapin Hartford. It’s the only song on the record I had nothing to do with the writing, but I had the experience that people often tell me they have with my music. I heard that song, and it found me right where I was.
So I first heard “Better than a Hallelujah” last October. A really good friend of mine had just passed away less than two weeks before I heard that. My mom and dad had just been moved to assisted living. My mother had a severe health decline last year and has around-the-clock care... it was just a very somber time, last fall was. That song was sent to me in an email, and I downloaded it and listened to it one morning with my PJs on and a cup of coffee. And when the song ended, I hit play again, when it ended, I hit play again. And I was so moved by the honesty.
I have known the love of God and had a relationship with Jesus since I was a young teen, probably younger, but where I really felt the impact of understanding His love. I have certainly done a lot of things poorly, but that doesn’t change His love. But I know what that feels like to not be waving pom-poms and screaming "Hallelujah", to just be kind of surrounded by tears and not really having any sort of map for what the next step looks like. I feel like that song addresses a lot in a very immediate way, the fact that we all are a bit a mess.
The song “Come Into My World” comes across as very personal. It was one that you penned before your divorce (with Gary Chapman), and I wanted to see what pushed you to want to include it on the record.
I think our culture encourages all of us to always put our best foot forward. I think it’s a good thing. I think it’s nice to rise to the occasion, to be kind and considerate, and have self control. But, I believe that there are many days in every person’s life that – because of the circumstances of life – they’re forced to put on a brave face when they’ve completely derailed on the inside. And that’s why I felt like that song was important, and in the sequence of to go from “Come Into My World” that’s just "please, please, please, please, please", and then it’s followed by a song called, “Arms of Love,” which the opening line is “Lord, I’m really glad you’re here.” Of course, the scripture that comes to mind is “Behold I stand at the door and knock.” To me that just paints the picture of, “OK, this is the door He’s knocking on. Does He know how messy it is on the inside if I open that door?” And the answer is "yes".
And going beyond dealing with our own lives, you talk about reaching out to others in “Third World Woman.” That song came out of a trip your family took to Africa?
I had written it before that. The picture came from our trip. I had the initial idea for that song after I had visited the Red Cross headquarters in Washington. And there was a meeting there of women from across the country that are part of a group called “The Tiffany Circle.” It’s just been their most recent fundraising effort. Historically, in the Red Cross, the majority of the leaders have been women. The majority of the funds raised has come from women. It’s a really inspiring story dating back to the Civil War.
Bonnie McElveen-Hunter was talking to us about the next project that their really putting their muscle behind, and it was about mothers in third world countries. I can’t remember specifically what country they were making a trip to. She was showing photographs of women, and I was looking at this room filled with women – and most of us mothers – and I was looking at those women on the photos and that’s where this idea came from.
The last song is a medley that includes words from "I Can Only Imagine" by MercyMe, showing the journey ending with us seeing Jesus in Heaven. What's the first thing you’re going to do when you get there?
I don’t know. My favorite picture that has ever been tagged as that is Brad Paisely’s song, “When I Get Where I’m Going". It was written by Rivers Rutherford.
I think it’s going to be the most incredible sense of belonging that any of us have ever known, the thing we really long for. But “I Can Only Imagine” says it better than I could babble it right now, and “When I Get Where I’m Going,” says it.
Hannah Goodwyn serves as the Family and Entertainment producer for CBN.com. For more articles, visit Hannah's bio page.
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