Saturday, April 11, 2009

It's better not to know

Sean and the kids are at Easter choir practice this morning so I had some time to myself. I intended to do laundry (because, dadgum it, those hampers keep getting filled up) and sat down at the computer to fire up a podcast I’d been waiting to listen to. But there was also a new Amy Grant song someone told me about so I thought I’d give it a listen first, then get to the podcast and commence folding.

Two seconds into the song I realized the laundry would have to wait.

Amy (I pretend I’m on a first-name basis) performed the song “It’s Better Not to Know” last week at Tin Pan South, a songwriters’ workshop in Nashville, and someone recorded it and posted it on YouTube. I’d read the lyrics a few weeks back after they were posted on AG’s website; I couldn’t wait to hear the music, especially after reading the backstory to the song. Here’s what she wrote:

We're working on a song called "Better Not to Know" that Cindy Morgan and I wrote. My Grandmother Grant died in the spring of 1988 when my first child was 5 months old. We planted a field of fruit trees in her memory....little leafless sticks with promising root balls. I lived on that farm another ten years... Had two more children there, and then life took a few unexpected turns.

When I left the farm I left behind the shade of those 75 trees that had grown into a thick canopy over our heads. They never had any fruit.

Eventually, the farm was sold.

Then this past summer I got a phone call. The current owner of the property had had the surviving fruit trees pruned; the farm next door had started keeping bees. My grandmother's trees were loaded down with peaches and pears and apples.

When Cindy came to my house last fall, I had just made my first batch of pear preserves. We talked and ate and wrote this song.

She recounts this story on the YouTube clip. And hearing her tell it in more detail, then hearing lyrics I’d read set to music just put me over the edge. I cried and cried and cried.

I cried for her; I know she’s only a voice on a record but her songs got me through junior high, high school, college and my early married years. When Sean and I were struggling so I would listen to Faithless Heart, Sure Enough, Find A Way, Who To Listen To and resolve to fight the good fight. I’d read stories about her marriage struggles and think, “She’s hanging in there; I can, too.”

Then she didn’t. She got divorced and my world was rocked. Why had I believed her? Why didn’t she fight?

All questions with no answers.

And I was mad.

In the years following the divorce stories leaked out about her ex-husband; her pastor said she had Biblical grounds for divorce. But more importantly I grew up a bit. I realized if I’d had a gazillion dollars in the bank and a country superstar waiting for me, I may have bolted my marriage, too, biblical grounds or not (now I'm so glad I didn't have that option!). And I realized she’s a human. Not exactly where I should have been putting my faith all those years, anyway…

So when I heard this song my heart just broke for her. And with a few more years under my belt I identified with it.

We sowed our seeds

Watered with tears

Waiting for signs of growth

Took months of days

And then took years.

We took our steps

We took our falls

Somewhere along the way

We just got lost

And we lost it all.

Nothing ventured nothing gained

The risk of living is the pain

And what will be will be anyway

Oh, it's better not to know

The way it's gonna go

What will die and what will grow

It's better not to know

Those tiny stems became these trees

With dirt and storms

And sun and air to breathe

Like you and me

And some fell down

And some grew tall

And those surviving twenty winter thaws

Have the sweetest fruit of all

But innocence and planting day

Are both long gone

So much has changed

And if we got to do it all again...

It's better not to know

The song starts at 6:33.