An enduring African proverb tells us, “Those who respect the elderly pave their own road to success.” A classic Chinese saying reminds us, “An elderly person (is like) a living golden treasure.” And Proverbs 20:29 nails the divine truth that “the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.” The ancients had it right about wisdom and old age.
While the majority of us spend out lives pursuing every latest fad and dietary and cosmetic breakthrough trying to stay younger, true success in this world is measured by a life well lived, marked by love, grand experiences and a willingness to age gracefully and pass the narrative and lessons learned to the younger generations.
Rarely has a contemporary song expressed these beautiful universal realities as poignantly, hopefully and majestically as “I See You,” an intimate, heartfelt acoustic ballad created by the unique songwriting team of Billboard charting songwriting team of multiple award-winning Americana/American roots singer Grant Maloy Smith and Mike Greenly, a renowned lyricist who has co-written eleven Billboard dance chart hits, including four #1’s. Released on Suburban Cowboy Records, the track was mixed and mastered by veteran producer Jeff Silverman in Nashville.
Over a hypnotic guitar line and easy flowing groove, Smith achieves the almost miraculous feat of infusing his poignant, soulful vocals with a dual sense of melancholy and hope – as if we can be sad in some ways about nature’s aging process, but hopeful that these legends in our lives can still be vibrant, vital contributors to the world we live in. After reflecting on how our elderly were once “starry eyed, laughing loud,” he pays homage to the undeniable things they have created for us: “You spent a lifetime building up/The world we have today.”
The second verse deftly gets into two specifics about America’s “Greatest Generation: “You built cars and factories/Saved us all from tyranny.” The pre-chorus acknowledges the passing of time that “runs like rivers to the sea/Time pulls you in like gravity,” while the heartfelt chorus offers a special kind of inspirational poetry as ageless as those it lifts up: “You feel fragile – but you’re strong/Think you’re invisible – but you’re wrong/I’ve been inspired by your courage all along/I see your while life shining through/I see you.”
In just a few lines, Smith and Greenly find a dynamic way to make the physically weakening feel mentally, emotionally and spiritually youthful. Most of all, it’s a way to make these people feel noticed and appreciated not only for what they were but for what they still are. Their bridge acknowledges the inevitable losses which come with growing older, followed by the corollary reality that “Every brave face, every smile that you put on/In these twilight hours, wishing can’t hold back the dawn.”
The audio track is exquisite and will inspire multiple listens, with each one revealing a new sonic or lyrical nuance. Yet to more fully understand the songwriters’ expansive intentions, please treat your eyes and ears to the masterful video, which illustrates the narrative with powerful images featuring interactions between old and young, as if, to quote the inimitable words of President Kennedy, “the torch has been passed to a new generation.” Thanks to “I See You,” that new generation rising up will appreciate the old more powerfully and meaningfully than ever before.
“I See You” has been selected as the theme song of Masterpiece Living, a multi-faceted organization dedicated to promoting successful aging and helping older people retire better and be healthy.
Listen to "I See You" here: https://open.spotify.com/album/6QtjvDZEhkc64hIhW72c8Q