I had just started my career in radio when I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe was first released. To quote wikipedia “”I Can Only Imagine” was released in 2001 as the album’s lead single. It gained significant airplay on Christian radio formats before crossing over to mainstream radio formats such as adult contemporary and Top 40 in late 2003 and into 2004; to aid in promotion to these markets, a double A-side physical single (combined with “Word of God Speak“) was released in 2003. It charted on several formats, including the Billboard Adult Contemporary (where it peaked at No. 5) and the Hot 100 (where it peaked at No. 71). In 2002, “I Can Only Imagine” earned the Dove Awards for ‘Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year’ and ‘Song of the Year‘; Millard earned the Dove Award ‘Songwriter of the Year‘ at the same ceremony. With 2.5 million copies sold, it is the best-selling Christian single of all time, having been certified 2x platinum by the RIAA. As of 2018, it is the only Christian song to reach that milestone.”
What all those stats don’t reflect is just how many peoples lives this one song has changed, among a whole catalogue of songs by a band that has now released 17 albums. I don’t remember where I was when I first heard it but I do remember just how big it was at the time. All these years later it is still a beautiful song. If you haven’t seen the movie based of the story behind the song see if it’s at a cinema near you. It only had a limited release here so a month after it’s release it’s finally made it’s way to where I live.
Why has a movie about a song from 9 years ago been so successful? The answer is simple the story still resonates. How do you survive a childhood filled with abuse? How do you forgive? How do you succeed when you’ve been taught not to? I am not afraid to admit that I cry, though I don’t remember crying as much at a movie since I saw A Time to Kill which predates this song by 3 years. If you are an artist in any shape or form go watch it. If you want to watch a beautiful film go see it. It you want to feel hopeful buy a friend a ticket so you have someone to talk to about it afterwards.
Bart may not have used a typewriter but this quote is still apt
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
― Ernest Hemingway
Don’t be afraid to tell your story.