I wrote this song when I was living in Richmond, Virginia. The band at that time was a pretty standard four-piece bluegrass group – guitar, fiddle, bass, and banjo. Only one of us really knew how to play bluegrass, however, making us a pretty non-standard bluegrass group.
Our bluegrasser-in-residence was banjo player Ambrose Waddell. Ambrose is one of those guys who has been around bluegrass all his life, has learned from the hottest pickers around, and can pretty much play circles around everyone he knows. I knew I needed to introduce some fast-paced bluegrass tunes into the repertoire in order to keep Ambrose engaged. Otherwise, he was going to get bored real fast. Since I didn’t know and couldn’t play any bluegrass or old-time chord progressions, I knew the song was going to have to be a blues. “Forgive Me” was intended to be Ambrose Waddell’s jam vehicle.
Lyrically, the song is about a son’s relationship with his mother. My family was going through a tragedy at the time the bulk of the songs for 26 Years were written, so a lot of the songs on the record are about this type of thing. The funny thing is, this song really fills its roll as our good time jam song, regardless of the lyrical content. The audience enjoyment doesn’t come in spite of the lyrics, though. Most of the dancers and twirlers I see are also singing along. I guess Mary Poppins was right about the sugar and the medicine and the delight and all that other stuff.