STORY BEHIND THE SONG ... 'AMERICAN CHILD'

By Phil Vassar and Craig Wiseman

The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, inspired songwriters from across the nation. Some wrote of anger and revenge, others of healing but Phil Vassar and Craig Wiseman took a completely different approach with their hit American Child.

As Phil and Craig watched CNN about a month after the attacks, they were haunted by the images coming out of Afghanistan. We were just sitting around talking about what we were seeing on the news, recalls Phil, like the black veils the girls in Afghanistan wore over their faces.

Talk turned to growing up in the United States, where such scenes are unimaginable. We started remembering things like playing Little League baseball and about coming from humble beginnings, says Phil. Craig and I didnt even know we were coming up with a song. But we ended up writing American Child out of this conversation.

In crafting American Child, Phil stuck to the time- honored songwriters maxim, Write what you know literally. Phil used his own boyhood experiences as a backdrop.

The address in the line, 419 Lakewood had no silver spoons, was my address in Lynchburg, Va., growing up, explains Phil with a smile. And the part about the old beat-up upright, well, Ive got pictures of me sitting at that piano when I was a little kid.

Phil also thought about his daughter Haley, which provided an especially poignant touch to the song. Haleys birthday is Aug. 27, so thats where the line, In late August came an American child, came from, says Phil. Even her weight, seven pounds, three ounces all that stuff is true.

The bridge for the song was inspired by a slice of family history. My grandfather died in World War II, says Phil, so I tied in a lyric about World War II veterans. Craig and I really liked it.

As they finished the song, Phil and Craig hoped to convey one important message that every American child is free to explore every opportunity.

Its a song about limitations, says Phil. Its saying that the only limits you have are the ones you put on yourself.

Phil smiles. This is also a song about coming from nothing, he quietly adds. Youre able to be anything you want to be, here in America.

Marianne Horner

American Child
Written by Phil Vassar and Craig Wiseman
Performed by Phil Vassar

I was 10, I was thin, I was playing first base
With a secondhand glove and dirt on my face
In nowhere Virginia, whod ever figure
That kid in the yard would go very far

Cause 419 Lakewood had no silver spoons
Just an old beat-up upright that played out of tune
Now Im singing and living the life that I love
And when I count my blessings, I thank God I was

An American child
An American child
Cause dreams can grow wild
Born inside an American child

Seven pounds, three ounces, shes got my nose
And shes into my heart as deep as it goes
With a promise thats more
Than just someones last name
Anyones equal in late August came

An American child
An American child
Cause dreams can grow wild
Born inside an American child

My grandfather would have been 80 today
But in 45 he fell down beside

An American child
An American child
An American child
Cause dreams can grow wild
Born inside an American child
An American child

AMERICAN CHILD
Words and Music by Phil Vassar and Craig Wiseman
2001, 2002 EMI April Music Inc., VassarSongs Music, BMG Songs, Inc. and Mrs. Lumpkins Poodle. All Rights for VassarSongs Music Controlled and Administered by EMI April Music Inc. All Rights for Mrs. Lumpkins Poodle Administered by BMG Songs, Inc. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured.
Used by Permission.

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