63: On Angel’s Wings

63: On Angel’s Wings

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Country Music

On Angel’s Wings

Story by Karen Taylor-Good

Song written by Karen Taylor-Good and Jason Blume

Recorded by Collin Raye, Karen Taylor-Good

The song was written about my mama, Molly Berke, who passed away in January of 2010. She had been suffering from dementia for the previous ten years. Earlier in her life, she belonged to Mensa, the society for people with high IQs. She was very proud of her smarts, and was just very, very sharp in a lot of ways. She ended up legally blind from macular degeneration and then we eventually had to move her to a dementia care unit.

That whole journey just crushed me and made me very angry. I was railing at God half the time, crying a lot, and not understanding at all. . . until I went into a writer’s room at SESAC in Nashville with my co-writer Jason Blume, back in the early 2000s. He is also one of my dear friends, so just talking about it with him — and going through half a box of Kleenex — helped. I said, “I still believe that God is not mean and vindictive, but I just can’t see the purpose behind this.” I asked Jason, “Do you think we could write a song that would help me look at this differently?” This song was the gift we were given that day.

I know the song was heaven-sent. It was an answer to my prayer, like it says in the lyrics: “the answer came down from above.” I knew that the chorus was true: “people and places / memories and faces / are just way too heavy it seems / to carry on angel’s wings.” The bridge just slayed me: “Oh, the wonders she’ll see / and I know she’ll remember to watch over me.”

Back then, I was writing for Warner/Chappell Music and I always sent everything through Collin Raye to see what he thought of the songs. He is one of my favorite male artists and a dear friend. He has recorded six or seven of my songs. So I pitched it to Collin and he wanted to do it. At the same time, one of my song pluggers pitched it to a really big female artist and she wanted to do it, too, but I fought for Collin, and won. Later, I ended up putting it out myself as well. I wrote a book about my life as a grown-up, dealing with teenage children, aging parents, etc., and included a 14-song CD. It’s titled On Angel’s Wings. Each of the book’s fourteen chapters is about one of the songs, how it came to be written and what it meant to me. The lyrics are included, too, and then there is a little love note for anyone who is going through something similar.

I make a point of singing “On Angel’s Wings” everywhere I go and sharing it with everyone I can, because it really helps people going through Alzheimer’s or dementia with their loved ones. I have just signed a record deal with a company in Germany and I know what the hook will be to get me on NPR, even though I hate having to reveal my age to do so. The hook is “Woman gets first major record deal at age 60!” When I can get on NPR and have them review the CD, and share this song, my life will be complete!

On Angel’s Wings

This is the woman

Who had all the answers

The one I would lean on

For comfort, for strength

She’s never forgotten

One grandchild’s birthday

Now she can’t remember my name

And it makes me so angry

I shake my fist

And cry out to the heavenly one

Why would you play

Such a cold hearted trick

I thought your job was to love

And the answer came down from above

CHORUS:

She’s gonna fly

When her time here is through

First she’ll have to let go

Of some things she can’t use

’Cause people and places

Memories and faces

Are just way too heavy it seems

To carry on angel’s wings

This is the woman

Who saw things so clearly

The one who could pick out

One crumb on the floor

She saw through a white lie

Saw me through love’s eyes

She hardly can see anymore

And it makes me so sad

And it just isn’t fair

Why should so much be taken away?

But when I cry out

For all that she’s lost

I silently hear someone say

CHORUS

And oh, the wonders she’ll see

And I know she’ll remember

To watch over me

CHORUS

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