I’m not going anywhere.
They’re powerful words, if used in the right context.
Oklahoma Music Hall of Famer Kelly Lang wrote and recorded a song titled “I’m Not Going Anywhere” more than a decade ago. The song, experiencing a resurgence after being selected for an Ascension Hospitals ad campaign, isn’t going away.
Here’s the story behind the song.
Lang said she wrote “I’m Not Going Anywhere” 16 or 17 years ago for a friend who was taking care of a terminally ill husband.
“I just loved her strength and how she kept saying, ‘Honey, I’m not going anywhere. I’m right here.’ He had a lot of caregivers, but I just noticed she was extraordinarily patient and kind with him. But nobody was really watching over her,” she said.
“I was real sensitive to that because my mom was a young widow and that bothered me quite a bit to see that. I just found such peace when she would tell him, ‘I’m not going anywhere,’ that it kind of triggered me to write the song. I never really even shared that with her. It just kind of was an inspiration internally with me.”
Be careful what you write, said Lang, who said it seems like every time she writes something heart-tugging, she ends up “living it out” somehow. Three months after writing the song, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I didn’t really allow anybody to see me cry when I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” she said. “I was going through chemo and radiation, so I was bald and green and I let myself just really cry when the kids were at school one day. I was looking in the mirror and I just thought, oh my gosh, I look like a monster. I was wailing, crying.”
Then Lang heard someone enter her house. Freshly showered, she threw on a robe to see who it was. It was the person she was dating, country music star T.G. Sheppard.
“It was the first time he had seen me without a wig on or makeup or anything, so I was embarrassed and I started crying even harder and he pulled me down on his lap in my closet floor and just kept rocking me like a little baby and he kept telling me, ‘I’m not going anywhere. I’m right here. I love you. You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.’ It hit me like, my gosh, that’s a full-circle moment there, you know? And so he went with me to all of my MRIs and held my hand in there in all my treatments. Several years later, we ended up marrying. We’ve been together 20 years now.”
Lang recorded “I’m Not Going Anywhere,” and it was a track on her “11:11” album. Sheppard and Crystal Gayle covered the song on his “Legendary Friends & Country Duets” album. “I’m Not Going Anywhere” was included on the soundtrack for “Deal,” one of Burt Reynolds’ final films.
And time marches on.
Lang thought the song had run its course. Then she got a message from her music administrator saying that someone from Ascension Hospitals saw her singing “I’m Not Going Anywhere” on a YouTube Video at Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe. The song was wanted for a local campaign. Reaction merited a promotion to a national “Your Care Is Our Calling” campaign honoring caregivers and the patients they serve during a time of social distancing.
“Right now, so many people can’t see their loved ones in hospitals, so this song has really resonated and struck a nerve with hearts,” Lang said. “So Ascension decided to take it national and, wow, I am honored and humbled to be the person that held the pen that God wrote this song through because it was seriously a God thing. There’s no doubt.”
Lang embraced the song’s second “life” and re-recorded “I’m Not Going Anywhere” for a deluxe EP. The EP includes a piano version, an orchestrated version and the tale behind the song. The EP can be purchased at www.kellylang.net. Click here for a new video of the song.
Lang, born in Oklahoma City, spent childhood years in Norman. She relocated to Tennessee because her father, Velton Lang, was a longtime road manager for Conway Twitty, who once was based out of Oklahoma City. In September, while appearing on the Mike Huckabee-hosted talk show “Huckabee,” she was surprised with an announcement that she had been selected for inclusion in the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.
Lang’s music journey so far is bookended by charting with “Lady Lady” at age 15 and, now, watching a song from her past become perhaps more relevant than ever. A writer from People.com interviewed Lang to delve into the song’s history.
“As a creative person ... it’s frustrating sometimes when you create something and you don’t see anything coming from it,” she said. “If I could be of some inspiration for those out there that create, nothing is in vain. Your timing is not necessarily God’s timing, and he may have different plans for later. I seriously had no earthly idea that this was coming my way.”