Vince Gill has brought his guitar wizardry to every stage imaginable across nearly 5 decades as an acclaimed musician and songwriter. From heavy metal rockers to rootsy bluegrass artists who have realized his talent since he was a young lad, Vince Gill is invited to take center stage on guitar in any genre. He has the virtuoso chops and speed with the strings that cause the likes of contemporaries, like Chris Shiflett of the Foo Fighters, to offer bows of homage.

About a year ago, Vince Gill was discussing his long career geeky on Shiflett's “Walking the Floor” podcast. At the time, Gill was about to go on the road as the featured singer and guitarist with his longtime friends, the Eagles. Now, he is two weeks away from the close of that stint. No matter the stage or the artists surrounding him, Vince Gill always has a song in mind. He has written some very tender, reflective, and true-to-his-roots songs for his latest album, “Okie,” and he performed one of the most poignant and powerful songs from the collection this morning, August 27, on “Today” in “The Artist’s Lounge” segment.

Coming from a place of truth

Few musical artists would dare to offer a moving ballad centered on the subject of sexual abuse while millions of viewers were pouring cereal and morning coffee. “Forever Changed” is personal for Vince Gill, who sees the world through the eyes of a grandfather these days. His two grandchildren will not be shielded from the news broadcasts and headlines forever, and just as Gill hopes his grandchildren will remember the gifts of Merle Haggard, the fellow “Okie” who inspired his new album, he hopes this song will be a voice “for innocence,” and for truth, but without the rush to judgment that comes by the end of a sound bite in most media’s rush to be first with the news.

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Gill related how he recorded his first album 45 years ago and is no longer out to prove himself or rack up sales numbers. He describes this effort as “demure,” with “really beautiful songs, simply played.” With the surge of the #MeToo movement, long-stifled wrongs and accusations are now voiced, while many victims, especially younger ones, still feel they have no voice.

Vince Gill's approach was to tackle the subject in a “graceful, forgiving, and kind” manner, without passing judgment.

“This record is void of it,” says the songwriter of judgment. He wants listeners to feel the anguish and permanent impact of abuse with the assurance to victims that “they didn't do anything wrong.”

All lasting art arises from the truth, and the Grammy winner revealed his own painful experience of attempted sexual assault as a youth in a Taste of Country feature released last week.

Higher places

The simplicity of “Forever Changed” only amplifies its message.

“You put your hands where they don't belong,” the song opens. “And now her innocence is dead and gone.”

“You might as well have used a gun,” the lyrics later continue, echoing the fear and shame that living with the secret of sexual abuse brings. Gill parallels the victim’s “cries to Jesus” with the ultimate cries for mercy and judgment of the violator that may not come in this lifetime, but will be administered by a higher authority.

Music is a vehicle for emotion and a balm for every hurt. A single song cannot solve the crisis of sexual abuse, but it can let anyone suffering in silence know that his or her pain matters, and inspire courage to speak. With an acoustic guitar and a keyboard, played by another old friend, John Jarvis, Vince Gill brought a measure of healing.

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