“Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout The Good Ol’ Days)” by The Judds
40 Days of Country – Song #28 – Lent 2016
Mother and Daughter duo, Naomi and Wynonna Judd, are not only one of country music’s all-time most successful acts, they are also one of the most beloved by fans. Despite a a relatively short career, spanning only from 1983-1991, before Wynonna began her solo career, The Judds earned five Grammy Awards, Eight CMA Awards, and fourteen number-one hits.
In 1986, The Judds scored perhaps their most well-known hit with the song, “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout The Good Ol’ Days)” off of their album, “Rockin’ With The Rhythm.” The song is an honest lament, with the narrator expressing discouragement over some of the changes society had undergone, with the fundamental attitude that not all progress is good progress. Through the lyrics, the mother and daughter duo reflect how “the world’s gone crazy” because of people’s hectic lifestyles and declining moral values. While a litany of subjects that were better “yesterday” are offered through the verses, the chorus drives the message home, asking, “Did lovers really fall in love to stay / Stand beside each other come what may / Was a promise really something people kept / Not just something they would say / Did families really bow their heads to pray / Did daddies really never go away.”
What my be surprising to some listeners is that the song was actually even more autobiographical than it sounds. Naomi, herself, who grew up playing piano in church, was the daughter of divorce, and soon moved from the comfort of her southern home to fast-paced California with her high-school sweetheart and newborn daughter. However, her marriage also ended in divorce, and she ultimately moved home with her daughter whom she renamed, Wynonna. With this in mind, the song becomes much less cynical and much more of an honest, painful reflection on a difficult life complete with unfulfilled desires and dreams.
The “lament” is a traditional form of poetry in the Hebrew Bible that isn’t discussed as often as some of the other, more popular songs of praise and thanksgiving, but is incredibly powerful and meaningful. Much like The Judds, In Psalm 143:4-5, the poet laments, “My spirit is weak inside me—inside, my mind is numb. I remember the days long past…” However, despite these painful circumstances, the poet is hopeful that God is capable of bringing him/her through these trying times, saying in verse 11, “Make me live again, Lord, for your name’s sake. Bring me out of distress because of your righteousness.” The world will never stop moving forward, but we can have faith that God will always be with us, moving us forward into a future filled with hope.
Eternal God, it is easy to remember “the good ol’ days,” when we are facing difficult and uncertain circumstances. Remind us that no matter where we come from, or what we’re going through, you have promised us your love, your grace, and a future filled with your glory. Amen.