This Old Heart of Mine
I like to think that all songs matter. I mean why bother writing them if they don’t come from somewhere that’s important to the writer. Songs can be epic, pervasive, longing, etc….there aren’t enough adjectives to cover the entire spectrum for us “lyrical wordsmiths”! Even songs meant to be funny or ironic come from a place that evokes an emotion from the writer. All of our processes are different and there is no wrong or right way to do it. Perhaps that’s why we choose to be song-writers. Screw the haters. We write what we feel, and we say what we mean.
In the case of “This Old Heart of Mine”, it’s deeply personal to me. I went through heart failure and almost died at the beginning of 2017. Six days after having a pacemaker/ defibrillator put in I suffered a massive coronary event that without a doubt would’ve been lights out for me…forever.
While the device saved my life, I was hit with 80,000 volts of current over the course of 8-10 minutes. So, I was hit eight times with 10,000 volts each time. I was later told that people don’t survive that kind of trauma. They normally lose consciousness after about 3-4 successive hits. Then they “expire”…pretty heavy terminology there! At one point the shock was so strong that I grabbed the ground, which was frozen, so hard that I ripped my fingernails off my hand. In my weakened state I gathered up the energy to crawl back to my parent’s home in Tupelo, MS.
From there I went to the ER and spent 10 days there recovering. My heart was very weak. I had a few weeks to recover. Then I went back out with my band Saving Abel on tour. I was told to be very careful and if I ever felt “off” to go directly to a local ER. Let’s just say I saw a ton of ER’s that year. Enough that I started writing the song.
I was convinced I was going to die and I wanted to write a song that thanked everyone for all the love and success I’d had. I’d seen the world playing music with Saving Abel and my family, friends and fans had been wonderful to me over the years. In essence it was paying homage to my heart for pushing so hard and saying “we had a good run man.”
So, the song was a narrative of me thanking my heart and the people who mattered. The lyrics were bittersweet. But it was a dark song.
This all changed when I started meeting sick children in emergency rooms. I’d given up and they had strength that I couldn’t comprehend. They had hope while I was waiting to die. Something clicked….
I realized it was time to give back. I wasn’t dead yet and unbeknownst to me, my heart was recovering with the help of modern medicine. In an ironic twist of Shakespearean fate, I basically changed a tragedy to comedy.
Not that heart failure is anything to laugh at, but I wanted a happy ending. I wanted a song that sick children would sing when times were dark. A message of hope instead of despair.
That is what my foundation “Rock and Roll for Hearts” is all about. The song is the cornerstone of the charity and it’s all about music keeping sick children’s spirits alive. I want my friends in prominent bands to pay visits to pediatric pulmonary wards and do a sing along and meet the kids and just have a lunch with them. I eventually want to put together an annual concert. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m making headway. You can keep up with myself and my foundation on social media and the song is on iTunes. Come to a Saving Abel show and tell me your stories that relate to heart failure. It’s good to talk about it.