Fifty Years from Now
Words & Music by John Mandeville, Steve Siler, Bill Ebert
Released on Fifty Years from Now: Strengthening and Encouraging Marriages
So I read where Paul McCartney got into a cab and was making small talk with the driver. When he asked how the man was doing the taxi driver replied, “Man, I’ve been working so hard it feels like I’ve been working eight days a week.”
I always felt like that cab driver got a raw deal because the credit for that song mentions only John Lennon and Paul McCartney as the writers. And I’m pretty sure John wasn’t driving a cab in those days.
My good friend John Mandeville and I were up in Sparta, Wisconsin to do some songwriting with Matt & Sherry McPherson. Matt’s company Mathews Archery is known for making the best bow and arrows in the business. Amongst musicians he’s also known for his marvelous McPherson guitars. He and his wife are also a singing duo and were working on putting together a new album.
While in town we naturally visited the manufacturing plant and met several of the company’s employees. One of them was a man named Bill Ebert. In the course of conversing with Bill he happened to mention that he was a songwriter. He told us that he had been part of writing a major hit song from the 1950’s but had not received any recognition or payment for his work on the song. (Since I was never able to confirm this account with any other sources I will not reveal the title here as that could perhaps unfairly besmirch an artist’s reputation). Suffice it to say it is a song that is very well known.
Somehow we got on to the topic of marriage and Bill made a remark something along the lines of, “people who are thinking about getting divorced need to ask themselves if you do that what’ll you have to look back on fifty years from now.”
As a songwriter one’s radar is always on the alert for song titles and ideas. John and I locked eyes when we heard the phrase ‘fifty years from now.’ We later agreed that when we got home we were going to write that song. In a few weeks, back in Nashville, that’s exactly what we did. Once the song was completed we both felt that it would never have happened without Bill’s phrase. So we reached out to him and offered to put his name on the song as a co-writer and give a small percentage.
While Fifty Years from Now never achieved the dizzying heights of Bill’s uncredited fifties hit the song did do pretty well as a Christian radio single. It charted in the top ten on the inspirational chart with Andy Denton as the vocalist. My friend Bonnie Pritchard who was Executive Producer of Songs 4 Life paid us a very nice compliment when she referred to it as “the Butterfly Kisses for marriage.”
Later on, I used the song as the anchor for a Music for the Soul project about strengthening marriage. We interviewed couples that had been married for 50 years or more and interspersed their comments with songs about marriage. Scott Krippayne, Felcia Ferrare, and Carolyn Pankalla sang on the project along with Denton and Mandeville.
It was shortly after this project was released that we received a tremendously powerful letter from a therapist in the Denver area. He told us that a couple on the verge of divorce had come in to see him. “We don’t want you to talk us out of it,” they had told him. “We just want you to help us navigate it amicably.”
“Alright,” he told them. “Do you mind if I play you a song first?” They said OK and the therapist played Fifty Years from Now. When the song was over they tearfully asked if he would help them save their marriage.
When I pull back and think about the genesis of this song and where it wound up I am amazed by the way God works. A comment made by someone I had just met in a bow and arrow factory in Wisconsin (not the kind of place a musician regularly finds himself) leads to a song being written in my basement office in Nashville, TN. In turn, that leads to a CCM radio single that then leads to a recording I am able to include on a ministry focused project five years later. (Keep in mind the ministry did not even exist when the song was written) And then that project winds up in the hands of a therapist in Colorado at just the moment a couple is thinking of ending their marriage.
“Your song saved their marriage,” the therapist tells me.
It’s in moments like those I think to myself, “Well, we had a lot of help.”
Thanks and praise be to God.