Singled Out: The Ragbirds' Good Time to Be Born
Our new album The Threshold & The Hearth has a storyline woven throughout it. It's the story of a young couple named Betty and Bill - covering 20 years of their life together with all of its ups and downs.
"Good Time to Be Born" is really a sweet spot on the album which takes place shortly after Betty discovers that she's pregnant with their first child. The song describes an encounter in a grocery store where Betty and a jaded stranger are both waiting in line to check out. The girl holding up the line has a newborn baby and her credit card is declined, leaving her without any way to pay for her food. The stranger witnessing the transaction is bitter at first but he has a change of heart and decides to help the young girl by paying her bill.
I wrote this song after giving birth to my daughter Aviva because I was coming from a jaded place myself. I was terrified about bringing a child into the world. I had been watching a lot of documentaries about the world generally hanging by a thread, and watching the news which seemed so full of violence and tragedy. Aviva gave me a whole new perspective on what it means to hope for the future and she helped me see the beauty of our world with fresh eyes.
Witnessing a random act of kindness can be powerful. Sometimes it doesn't take much to restore our faith in humanity because we truly want to believe that people are good. We want to believe that if we are in need someone will step in to help.
This song was a challenge for me write because I started with the chorus and I knew what I wanted to say, but not how to say it. The message of someone learning how to hope can easily come across as trite if it's not genuinely hard-won.
I experimented with a few different ways of telling the story before resolving to let it be someone else's experience that I was narrating. I played with the phrasing, letting the verse lines breathe and build up slowly to the line "Weatherman, can't you feel the sun?" which then opens into the poppy sing-along chorus.
We recorded the band live, then our producer Jamie Candiloro (Ryan Adams, REM, Willie Nelson) laid down an organ track which combined with the accordion creates a warm bed for the song to unfold upon. My brother's strong harmony in the chorus really uplifts my voice and by the last chorus there is a choir of people singing along. We decided to just pull the whole band and a bunch of friends together to sing so the voices sounded like everyday people, without the polish of a trained choir.
I love performing this song live because many people have told me that it really touched them. I can see that I have the audience's full attention as I unravel the story, thread by thread. By the time I get to the last chorus I can sometimes see tears in people's eyes.
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and learn more about the album right here!