Addiction can be a complex and painful experience to watch someone go through, especially a loved one. When Gail Taylor was writing the song “Wings,” she wanted to create an emotional support song for those who have had those experiences.
Taylor, also known as Gail T as Charged, purposely released the song during Mental Health Week in Canada, when people are encouraged to celebrate and promote mental health in the first week of May, with this year’s theme being empathy.
Before Taylor became a songwriter, she was an investment advisor for 25 years. A few years ago, she retired to focus on studying music full-time through private teachers and taking online classes at the Berklee College of Music. She studied songwriting, instruments like the guitar and keyboard, ear training, and business marketing.
In January 2020, she wanted to reinvent herself as a musician and began working with other artists. All of Taylor’s songs are based on her life, and she turns them into inspirational stories to make people feel good.
“I have a son who was in active addiction for a couple of decades, so I know firsthand what it’s like to love somebody that’s addicted to opioids or anything else,” Taylor says.
Although the song is about addiction, she says that anybody with a loved one with a mental health disorder will understand the message she’s trying to share.
“It’s so hard on the loved ones,” she says. “Everybody knows somebody that’s struggling with it. The loved ones end up with anxiety disorders, depression, and they end up with survivor’s guilt.”
One of the biggest challenges when writing the song, Taylor says, was how her son and the public would perceive it. She says she got permission from her son to write about the topic.
“Every song that you write, this one especially, it’s a little bit of you,” she says. “You always have that thought about ‘what if it’s not well-received, what if people don’t like it?’”
“But this one is so close to home that I’m just hoping that [it is well-received], and if it’s not well-received by some people, that’s fine as long as I can do good with others…. The goal is to help people get happier, and be their best selves.”
There is more than one meaning to the song. “Wings” also shares the message of giving yourself permission to be happy.
“I was really inspired to get that message out there that you’re allowed to be happy. You don’t have to feel guilty that you’re having a good day, even though you have somebody you love that’s not,” she adds.
Taylor says the song is important because too many people are struggling with giving themselves permission to create their own life. In the 1970s, she adds that there was a self-help movement on how to figure out making our own life instead of letting life happen to us.
“We want to be their wings until they learn to fly, but we can’t,” she says. “You do not get to control another person’s journey. You just don’t. You get to control your own journey, and that’s it.”
In the meantime, Taylor will be working on an EP this summer in Nashville, and it will be her debut recording as an artist.
“It’s just important that you’re doing something that you’re passionate about because you spend a third of your life in your career,” she says. “That’s an awful lot of time. If you’re gonna spend that much time, you better be having fun.”