Vince Gill Wrote ‘Forever Changed’ to Give Other Victims a Voice
After a soft piano introduction, Gill begins as if he's singing a beautiful love song, except his words cut like a samurai sword. "You put your hands where they don't belong / And now her innocence is dead and gone," he sings.
“If somebody every thought I was trying to kind of glom on to a hot topic, it would break my heart. I’m not," he told select media at a recent interview roundtable. "I feel like sometimes innocent people need a voice."
The 62-year-old legend can relate to victims of sexual abuse better than most, because in seventh grade, he became one.
"My basketball coach, who was the hero of all heroes to me because I was playing basketball on the eighth grade team as a seventh grader — that just didn’t happen very often," he starts, telling a story he first shared with CNN several years ago when Penn State University's Jerry Sandusky was in the news for sexually abusing scores of children. "And he tried to act on me, you know. And I was lucky. I got up and I ran. I don’t know how many kids that went through those years with that guy and a couple others that didn’t get away so lucky."
"Can't you just leave the child alone / I can hear the angels in heaven moan / God was watching and he knows your name / Because of you, she's forever changed," Gill sings at the chorus of "Forever Changed," a song from his new Okie album, expected Aug. 23.
It's a singer-songwriter's album that finds Gill tributing Merle Haggard, Guy Clark and his mother, among others. But "Forever Changed" stands out as an intensely personal song on an intensely personal album.
“This is a real black mark on us as human beings to mistreat each other the way we do," Gill says. "We have a long history of mistreating each other. It’d be really easy to be real judgmental about it, but I’m trying not to be. I’m trying to just have the conversation.”
"Forever Changed" was first heard during Country Radio Seminar in Nashville in 2018. Gill initiates other social conversations on Okie, but none come with the same force as "Forever Changed."
See 50 Essential '90s Country Songs ... Any Missing?