The thought of losing anyone you care about is an unimaginable feeling. We spend our entire lives connecting with people; intertwining family, friend groups and our places of work to create relationships that can last a lifetime. No matter how unavoidable loss may be, we are lucky to be able to relate and empathize with each other to make through the difficult times of our lives. While scrolling though Facebook the other night, I came across a special recording of my favorite rock ballad of all time: ‘Heaven’ by Warrant — this time sung by Maddi Lane, the daughter of the original singer and writer of the song, Jani Lane. I was overcome with emotion when I listened to her version, as I thought about how difficult it must have been to lose her father at such a young age. Maddi Lane was 11 years old when her father died in 2011 at age 47.
“I was overcome with emotion when I listened to her version, as I thought about how difficult it must have been to lose her father at such a young age.”
As a tribute to Jani Lane’s birthday today, I want to take a look inside the message that’s beautifully expressed in ‘Heaven.’ Lane originally wrote the song as the front man of Plain Jane, the band he started before Warrant with long time bandmate Steven Sweet. Once it was released in 1989 on Warrant’s debut studio album Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich, it became an instant hit. Along with ‘Heaven,’ Jani Lane has writing credits for the majority of the band’s material including some of their most popular songs: “Down Boys,” “Sometimes She Cries,” “Cherry Pie” and “Big Talk.” I don’t really remember the exact reason I got so into this band, but I’m glad I did because the vibe and energy of their music — and the song ‘Heaven’ in particular — has helped shape me into the person I am today.
After listening to Maddi Lane’s recording, I spent some time sympathizing for her about her father’s loss. I began to think about my own situation — something I would rather choose to ignore, and have for quite some time. I’ve written before about how I love music’s ability to bring out my deepest feelings of hope and love, but unfortunately at times when I least expect it, music can bring up the old feelings of sadness that I’ve endured in my life. When I first started listening to Warrant, I was 16 years old and was experiencing my own sense of loss from my father whose life was taken over by drugs and alcohol. It hit me the hardest when I realized how much it was affecting my younger brother, who was six at the time. Since then, I’m proud to say that the whole situation has made us closer and stronger, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel abandoned from time to time.
Though I don’t know Maddi Lane personally, I feel connected to her through the song ‘Heaven’ after hearing her sing it. I relate to it even more now than I did when I was going through my mess. I imagine it’s always hard when situations in anyone’s family start to become uncomfortable, and though I don’t wish these occurrences on anyone, it seems to be a part of life. I’ll clarify that no, my dad did not die, but I did lose him. Bottom line, he’s not in my life anymore because of his habits. I have many friends who have made the effort to become clean and sober and have succeeded, but for some reason, the ambition he lacks to be in my life again hurts more than the addition itself, and unfortunately I don’t think that can be repaired.
“…but I think it was really special how she can relive the memories she has with her father through the thing that was so very much a part of him — HIS music.”
The lyrics of ‘Heaven’ are a great example of a true bond — one that is eternal. I can’t imagine that is was easy for Maddi Lane to sing it and share it with the world, but I think it was really special how she can relive the memories she has with her father through the thing that was so very much a part of him — HIS music. It’s obvious that same musical talent is in her blood, and it will always be there to shine through on even her darkest days. I’ll always remember the good times I shared with my my own dad. They still make me happy when I think of them, and I do think that is important. Just like the song ‘Heaven’ says: “The memories are gray but man they’re really coming back” — and that’s completely okay.
I have to admit that this piece was hard for me to write. I’ve chosen to put certain expectations of people on hold in my life just because of the things I’ve seen and been through. I’m still trying to figure out if that is a good thing or not, but for now it makes sense to be cautious. I really want to focus on my career, supporting my family and being a good friend. I hope that by sharing my own experiences I’ve been able to help the people who’ve been through similar downfalls realize that they are not alone. Loss is indeed inevitable, but it is possible to gain strength from it. I hope that Maddi Lane can continue to share her feelings openly through the very outlet her father was able to, and I hope her connection to his music makes her prevail in a positive way. I am grateful that I was, and still am, affected by songs like ‘Heaven,’ and I look forward to having that relationship with music for the rest of my life.