Well, it’s finally here.

It seems like it’s been both forever and just yesterday since we first heard Grace perform Clearly live at the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C., though for a day or two fans were calling it “Claritin” thanks to Grace’s monologue explaining how she was only familiar with the classic Johnny Nash version “I Can See Clearly Now”.

Grace, I don’t believe people will think you’re the Claritin Girl as you feared. You’ve delivered. Along with your frequent collaborator/producer Ido Zmishlany you have created something very special.

Full disclosure: “I Can See Clearly Now” is one of my favourite songs of all time, though I have to admit that the “Hot House Flowers” version from the 80s is my favourite recording of that song.

“Clearly”, however, is not the same song. In its own way it’s even better. Only part of the chorus is recycled from the classic song. To call this a cover is to do a disservice to both songs; they are distinct works of art.

Whereas Johnny Nash’s song focuses on the joy of having conquered what kept him from the sunlight, Grace’s “Clearly”, as is Grace’s tradition, focuses on the journey through the darkness that will bring her to the light. 13-year-old Grace – for that was her age when she penned the lyrics with Ido – crafted a deeper and more meaningful message and journey.

I mentioned that this journey through a challenging time is a traditional theme for Grace’s songs, and it is. You can find that message, to varying degrees, in songs such as:

“I Don’t Know My Name”
“The Good Just Gets Better”
“Beautiful Thing”
“Light The Sky”
“Gossip Girl”
“Sick of Being Told”
“So Much More Than This”
“Talk Good”
“Better Life”
“Darkness Keeps Chasing Me”
“Hope For Change”

This is Grace’s wheelhouse: recognize you have a problem, face that problem head on, find a way through it, don’t be afraid to accept help if you need it, you can do it, now allow yourself to be happy.

And yes, she wrote half of those before she was a teenager and the other half when she was only thirteen.

In many ways, and my thoughts on this aren’t original, I’ve seen it proposed elsewhere, “Clearly” could be seen as a sequel to “Darkness Keeps Chasing Me”.

I will eventually write up a breakdown of Darkness soon, but for now a quick summary of Grace’s masterpiece:

– Sometimes I feel overwhelmed and feel I can’t run from that which seeks to swallow me whole.

– I don’t want to succumb to what is chasing me.

– I want your help, I don’t want to ask for it, but I’m not sure I can conquer this alone.

– Please don’t let me fall like so many others before me have. I don’t want to be like them.

-I accept that it will always chase me, but I will keep running.

Yep, thirteen!

“Clearly” seems to cover similar ground, but it is less claustrophobic as it allows for the concept of salvation, or at least a reprieve from the Darkness.

Let’s review the entirety of the lyrics and then break it down…

There’s a world outside my door
I don’t know it anymore
I’m gonna stay here now
I’m gonna stay here now
Close the curtains, cut the lights
Match the darkness in my mind
It’s gonna take me down
It’s gonna take me

[Pre-Chorus]
All the roads I’ve been before
Same mistakes always got me shakin’
And all the signs I once ignored
In my denial, I didn’t want to face them

[Chorus]
I can see clearly now
The rain has gone
I accept all the things that I cannot change
Gone are the dark clouds
The dawn has come
And it’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day

[Verse 2]
There’s a world outside my door
I forced my feet down to the floor
It’s not gonna take me down
It’s not gonna take me down
Take a breath and say a prayer
Find the strength in my despair
I’m gonna make it out
I’m gonna make it

[Pre-Chorus]
All the roads I’ve been before
Same mistakes always got me shakin’
And all the signs I once ignored
In my denial, I didn’t want to face them

[Chorus]
I can see clearly now
The rain has gone
I accept all the things that I cannot change
Gone are the dark clouds
The dawn has come
And it’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day
It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day

[Bridge]
All the pain in my sorrow
Won’t change today, only ruin tomorrow
All the pain in my sorrow
Won’t change today, only ruin tomorrow

[Chorus]
I can see clearly now
The rain has gone
I accept all the things that I cannot change
Gone are the dark clouds
The dawn has come
And it’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day
It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day

See what I mean? This isn’t Grace running anymore, it’s her coming to the realization that much of the darkness chasing her is her own self destructive behaviour and that such behaviour can be defeated, the result of which will be freedom and light.

Let’s do this…

“There’s a world outside my door
I don’t know it anymore
I’m gonna stay here now
I’m gonna stay here now
Close the curtains, cut the lights
Match the darkness in my mind
It’s gonna take me down
It’s gonna take me”

These are the classic onset symptoms of depression, feeling like a stranger in your own life, shutting down, feeling the pull of the darkness and giving in to it, though all phrased very poetically and beautifully, of course.

“All the roads I’ve been before
Same mistakes always got me shakin’
And all the signs I once ignored
In my denial, I didn’t want to face them”

This is Grace admitting that she should have seen the signs of the approaching darkness and done something about it, but pretended everything would be fine.

Next we jump to that portion of the song which borrows heavily from the foundation of all 12 step recovery programs; the “Serenity Prayer.”

Let’s first review the main thrust of the prayer before returning to the lyrics…

“God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.”

Now the chorus from “Clearly”…

“I can see clearly now
The rain has gone
I accept all the things that I cannot change
Gone are the dark clouds
The dawn has come
And it’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day”

Grace’s “Clearly” summarizes the prayer with the line “I accept all the things that I cannot change”

The implication presented is that if one recognizes and accepts the things that one cannot change, that what can be changed to positively affect one’s life will be undertaken, the result of which will be a salvation from what has troubled us, to the extent that it is practically possible.

This is classic Grace philosophy, and I love it. Again, Nash’s song is a celebration post-recovery, Grace’s song is about facing recovery and coming out the other side; massive difference in depth.

Let’s continue…

[Verse 2]
“There’s a world outside my door
I forced my feet down to the floor
It’s not gonna take me down
It’s not gonna take me down
Take a breath and say a prayer
Find the strength in my despair
I’m gonna make it out
I’m gonna make it”

Here we get to the recovery: the exercise of willpower, relying on faith and one’s own strength to muscle our way through a problem, not matter the depth of despair. She’s, of course, talking about courage.

What follows is a repetition of before, so let’s skip ahead to the bridge…

[Bridge]
“All the pain in my sorrow
Won’t change today, only ruin tomorrow
All the pain in my sorrow
Won’t change today, only ruin tomorrow”

Damn, pardon my Français, but wow, come on; this is brilliant stuff.

Wallowing in sorrow won’t positively affect anything and will only ensure the next day will be equally forfeit, and to drive it home she repeats it for the thick headed. This is “Tough Love Grace”, telling you what you need to hear, not what you want to have said. That she delivers it the second time with such a soaring powerful note is a bold choice. She is so good… so good.

And then we end with the most triumphant version of the chorus thus far, we can feel the sun on our faces, but there’s still a hint of melancholy on the last line; “Tough Love Grace” rearing her head again as if to say; “Yes, enjoy this victory, but recognize that though this battle has been won, the war will be waged your entire life. Don’t let this happen again.”

This song could seriously save a lot of lives; that’s not hyperbole, it’s a probability.

This article was first posted on VanderVault’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XydnaaaaSnE&lc=UgxSEARgYkjmL7O_Cg54AaABAg