I think that one of the most important words in the English language is empathy. It’s one of the things that make us different from the lesser creatures of the earth: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. In our “what’s in it for me” culture too often empathy gets pushed aside.
A few years ago I met Jake Stigers at a BMI #1 rooftop party in Nashville. BMI does this whenever one of their songwriters gets a number one record on the charts. Sadly, it wasn’t for me! Chris Keaton who represents my song catalog introduced me to Jake and thought we ought to write together.
Next came the age-old songwriters question: what to write about? Harlan Howard said: “Country music is three chords and the truth”. The truth is, Jake was raised by a single mom. So, that became our song, but with a few more chords. (Sorry Harlan)
We took the idea to my other songwriting partner Mike Greenly. Together we wrote a song that none of us alone could have. That’s the beauty of collaboration. It also involves empathy. Mike and I were blessed with coming from two-parent homes. But Jake showed us the world he and his brother Curtis grew up in. Honestly, I rarely gave the subject much thought.
There are many reasons why a woman may find herself in the position of raising children on her own: divorce, abandonment or the death of her partner, maybe even by her own choice. Whatever the reason it’s incredibly difficult to be a single parent. Man or woman. But there’s something about being a single mother that’s different. For one thing it’s harder for her to find a job and when she does, she will earn less than a man. The single mom has been the focus of endless opinion pieces and commentaries. I’m not a social scientist, I’m a songwriter and musician. All I can do is imagine what it would be like.
I have a niece, more like a little sister really because of our closeness in age. She and her husband John had a daughter Alison and were pregnant with their son John when John Sr. was tragically taken from them in a car accident. Through the years she faced the challenges every a parent faces raising a family. There were people around to help but in the end the responsibility was hers alone. I saw her become empowered and rise to the challenge.
“Because her man is gone, she had to be twice as strong… she’s a single mom”
And there were times… oh boy there were times…
“Lord knows she’s not perfect, but she did her best”
I read somewhere that for a single mother her child’s love compensates for everything. This must be true because there is love in that house.
I hope our song Single Mom resonates for you. If it does feel free to share the video with friends. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4fP0nv_d78