I bought the CD for Leann Rimes’s current record “Family” back in October last year as I was on a business trip back to Denver. My partner and I had moved to Michigan so he could pursue a PhD degree, so this was my first trip back to the town I had called home for six years. The CD hit on Tuesday, I swung by Target to pick it up, and then hit the road for Boulder and Longmont with the new music.
Between those two towns, I found myself driving through the foothills of the Rockies when “What I Cannot Change” came on. To say I was blown away would be a severe over-generalization. In amazing form, Leann (who co-wrote this song with her husband and another writer) completely captured where I was at in life with just a couple of verses.
I will learn to let go what I cannot change
I will learn to forgive what I cannot change
I will learn to love what I cannot change
But I will change, I will change
Whatever I, whatever I can
Sound familiar? It’s kind of an updated version of the Serenity Prayer, which has special meaning to me. My grandmother cross-stitched this in a class she took, and then took a ceramics class and made a frame to go around it. It’s one of two items I got of hers upon her death, and it’s been in every home I’ve had since college. But more than the memory, the Prayer means a lot to me in my life. I have a Don Quixote mentality at times, trying to rage against machines that I really have no business raging against. The Prayer brings me back to being grounded, and knowing when and where to pick my battles.
The single cello, the sparse piano, the basic drum beat…the simplicity of the arrangement only adds to the basic message of the song. Leann, who seemed like a novelty act way back in the day, turns in her most nuanced vocal performance to date, and cements herself a place amongst the few mainstream country artists that really have some integrity in what they record. If this is not a hit (it was released as a single in August), Country Radio should have its head examined.
So what’s the current significance to my life? Well, I am sitting in a hotel in Nebraska, with all of my possessions loaded into a truck out in the parking lot, on my way to Denver. My relationship of five years ended in May, and I have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to really reboot my life. Suddenly Leann’s mantra of knowing what’s in her control and what’s left to the powers that be really has additional significance. As I was heading out of Michigan, the “radio version” of the song, with some additional instrumentation to help garner airplay, came on Sirius, and it hit me instantly that this should also be on my moving playlist.
Life throws a lot of curves at you, and it’s how we handle them that defines us and shapes our future. I’m hoping that I hit this one out of the park, but only time will tell. Music follows me wherever I go on this journey, and I’m constantly amazed how often the timing of hearing a song can deeply affect how you view lyrical content. Not everyone will like “What I Cannot Change”, but at least give it a listen.
What I Cannot Change – LEANN RIMES