It’s hard to be witty when you’re in the car driving your kids to school.
It’s also hard to be witty when you’re having a serious, grown-up, heart to heart with your mom about how you were raised.
That was David Nail’s big mood on Tuesday (Oct. 22) when he posted about his brand new ballad.
“But seriously, I’ve got a new song coming out,” Nail said of “Oh, Mother.”
“It’s a very personal song, a very personal subject matter. Something that I probably wanted to write for a long time. But I always believe that songs come to you when they’re ready to be written. This one came this past spring,” he says, “and it just kind of kept coming to the top of the water.”
Before you listen to the song, let’s back up for a minute.
First, there was Nail’s song about his father Dennis who was a high school band director at Kennett High School in Missouri. “Old Man’s Symphony,” from his 2016 Fighter album, was a tune Nail penned himself, about trying to be as good as his dad was when it came to music. And would he ever measure up if he did the music thing.
Now, it’s Nail’s mother Donna’s turn.
The new song isn’t even close to the party anthems or nostalgic trips down memory lane that are on the radio 24, 7 these days. But it’s still a welcome addition, because Nail hasn’t released a country song as a solo artist since 2016’s collaboration with Brothers Osborne, “Good at Tonight.”
This one is touching, heartbreaking, and has the kind of honesty that might take your breath away: for Nail, or anyone you’ve ever known who has struggled with mental health, depression and anxiety. Until now, Nail’s never had a song about the heavy topic. And like the song for his father, Nail wrote this one himself.
Nail’s mission with “Oh, Mother” is to make sure his mother knows that his own struggles with mental health are no one’s fault. Especially not hers.
“I think I knew what the song would be,” Nail told me of what was on his mind when he picked up the guitar the day he wrote it. “But I’ve learned in the moment to sort of remove my initial emotions, and just follow the story. It wasn’t until afterwards, when I listened back, that I realized the gravity of the message.
“I think the ’storm’ in the song represents a lot of things. And as we recorded it, I began seeing it in many ways. I felt like it was almost like a soldier going off to war. Saying, ’If I don’t make it back, mother, I love you!’ For me personally,” he added about the lyric ’if I don’t make it out this storm,’ “the storm is the daily battle. So for me, it was, ’Mother, if I don’t ever return to the son you knew me as, before this battle mentally began, it’s not your fault.
“It’s just who I was born to be.'”