David Nail Is Helpless, Not Hopeless During Stirring ‘Forgiveness’ Performance [Watch]
David Nail didn't want to write "Forgiveness."
The singer says the new ballad was inspired by a past love he "cared deeply about" in his hometown of Kennett, Mo. He watched from afar as this person's life unraveled — it was a "classic case" of the most unlikely person winding up in the most unlikely situation, and he learned of her troubles in the newspaper.
During a reflective performance of "Forgiveness" at the Taste of Country studio, Nail sings of helplessness, not hopelessness. The lyrics touch on the pain he felt watching someone he cares for endure trauma and encouraging them to find solace in forgiveness. Just a few gentle piano chords support his breathtaking vocals as he delivers the message.
"I wish I held the answers / To all the questions in your mind / Wish I could say it will get better / But I can't look at you and lie / I know I've had my share of troubles / So who am I to give advice / But if you ain't felt forgiveness / Seems like now's the time," Nail sings, rarely opening his eyes.
"It's probably about as accurately a song as I've ever written. [It's a] dire situation, it's bad, and I feel obligated to not shy away from that," Nail explains, sitting on a couch in the Taste of Country studio. "It just broke my heart, and it was the perfect storm of, 'How does this happen?' I wanted to tell a story from my standpoint of when you see somebody in that position and you know they know what kind of situation they're in, that whole process to get to that place, there's a lot of questions."
The vocalist has written revenge breakup songs in the past, but after closer examination, he realized those weren't an accurate reflection of how he felt. "I think at the end of the day, I thought that was what was appropriate, but it wasn't really, truly what was on my heart," he observes years later.
What was on his heart was "Forgiveness," the stirring ballad that's featured on his 2019 EP, Oh, Mother. But before the song was complete, he took it to co-writer Donovan Woods, who'd penned a powerful song called "Our Friend Bobby" about a childhood friend who mysteriously passed away. Nail initially felt too close to the story, and was searching for a change in perspective in how to write "Forgiveness" after hearing "Our Friend Bobby," but Woods urged him that the song was written just as it needed to be.
Nail decided to send a demo of "Forgiveness" to his friends back home, and it immediately brought them to tears, knowing who it was about. As for the subject, Nail doesn't know for sure if she's heard it, but guesses she has, and he ultimately sees the song as a source of comfort and closure.
"More than anything, it was something that I needed," he shares. "[It's] some closure for me, and to be able to let her know, 'Where you're at is beyond something I can help you with ... there's one person, there's one place you need to turn and it's really the only way you're going to dig yourself out of this.' That's what the song is about."
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