In a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone Country, Vince Gill detailed an unreleased song he had written titled “Forever Changed.” While notable then, the deeply personal ballad takes on much more weight today: its subject matter deals with sexual abuse.
Gill performed the song during a concert at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium in December, but on Tuesday he gave “Forever Changed” a more broad debut, singing it during a showcase – also at the Ryman – presented by his label, Universal Music Group Nashville, for this week’s Country Radio Seminar (CRS).
“You put your hands where they don’t belong and now her innocence is dead and gone,” sings Gill. “God was watching and he knows your name / because of you, she’s forever changed.”
The song was inspired by an incident in Gill’s own life.
“I was not abused as a child. But I had a basketball teacher, a gym teacher, that tried. It was seventh grade and it turns out he was a little wrong, a little ill-thinking. He tried to make a move on me. All of a sudden, his hand was on my leg and I thought there is something about this that is really wrong,” he told Rolling Stone in 2014. “I just got up and I ran. In seventh grade I didn’t know anything about sex. That’s the most disturbing of all when you prey on a child.”
Gill recounted the incident again onstage at the Ryman on Tuesday afternoon, dedicating the song to those affected by sexual abuse.
In the midst of the #MeToo movement, which has spread from Hollywood to Washington, D.C., and beyond, the song carries particular emotional heft, and the decision to perform it during CRS also resonates in light of allegations of sexual misconduct that have been raised in the country radio world.