If Heaven

Album: This I Gotta See (2004)
Charted: 65
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  • This was written by Gretchen Peters, who was brought up in an area next to the thriving metropolis of Manhattan. It was her childhood sanctuary, safe, simple, and, she says, a good place to grow up. So when she was writing songs for her album Halcyon, she dipped into the well of childhood memories and came up with this song, which is a vivid description of how her home town feels to her. In a Songfacts interview with Peters, she said: "I really just had some images about the town I grew up in. It was a little town, even though we were right by Manhattan. It was a good place to grow up. I felt good there, I felt safe and protected, and I knew my neighborhood. It felt small in the midst of a very big place. And I just was sort of playing with the images that came up for me about that, about childhood and that town. And I'd had the verses pretty much written for a long, long time, but struggled a lot with the chorus. I felt like these verses were very much just a folk song, just a simple folk song. And I thought even for a while, well, if it's a folk song maybe it doesn't need a chorus. Maybe it's just this. And I just struggled with the chorus for a long time. And finally it came to me that it was just as simple as saying if that's what Heaven's made of, I'm not afraid to die. There wasn't anything more to it."
  • This song has become a popular one to play at funerals, probably due to the picture-postcard image it paints of Heaven. However, Peters wrote this song with the intent of conveying what her childhood meant to her, and says, "It wasn't anything in particular. It was just a sort of a memory, or a lot of memories, of what that idyllic time was like for me, and I felt, well, that's Heaven. What it ought to be."


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