“Has this world forgotten how to love?”
Tom Paden (Richmond University, ‘79) begins his newest song, “Window in the Wall”, with this simple, yet timely question for a world in need. But what Paden is most thankful for with his new smash hit is the journey he took to reach the point of writing a song with a message for all to hear.
Paden initially did not begin in the songwriting business but rather selling product for his family’s business in Oklahoma for about five years after graduation. During his free time, Paden was writing song after song. He realized that this could be a career if he went for it.
So, Paden did exactly that. Leaving behind his job in Tulsa, Paden set out for Nashville to follow his dream. Paden said that his time in Lambda Chi Alpha learning about what it means to work hard, have discipline, be a friend, and have compassion helped him on his journey in the music business.
Once in Nashville, Paden wore many hats to make ends meet, from serving as the doorman at the Vanderbilt Plaza Hotel, driving tour buses, and loading freight at Roadway Truck Lines.
Finally, Paden got his big break and was signed by Reba McEntire’s publishing company where he was able to gain the experience he needed and build up his song catalog.
As Paden kept writing and gaining more experience, he was able to gain traction in the songwriting business and have his songs picked up by major artists from every corner of the entertainment business.
By 2016, Paden had gained a positive reputation for himself in the business and was asked by a Croatian teen star for assistance on a song to help her make it into the Eurovision competition. Paden, and his best friend and favorite co-writer, Eddie Kilgallon, began to write a relationship song, inspired by Paden’s divorce that was weighing heavily on his heart.
As the song evolved, Paden realized that they didn’t have one key element, a title. After deliberating, Kilgallon came back to Paden with something that would give Paden goosebumps: “Window in the Wall”.
Four years later, the events of 2020 unfolded. He knew immediately that their song could make a difference with a re-write of their song. Paden called up Kilgallon and said they needed to change the original lyrics from the perspective of two people to a song for the world.
After rewriting and demoing the song, Paden began pitching it to no avail.
During a workout, Paden vividly recalls receiving a text message from his cousin, Cyndie Morris, detailing how she had met a new friend at her breast cancer clinic near Atlanta who was extremely interested in recording the song. That friend turned out to be Olivia Newton-John.
Newton-John expressed to Paden by phone how the song had touched her heart and she was ready to come out of retirement to record it. Paden could not believe his ears.
Newton-John and her daughter, Chloe, went on to record “Window in the Wall” and even shot a video at her ranch in California. Paden watched as the song gained more and more popularity and eventually reached the number one video on iTunes.
Though the notoriety Paden has received from the song has been incredible, he will be the first to say that it has always been about the music.
“I want to make a difference with my songs…and maybe change somebody’s life or turn someone’s life around to make them think and respond,” said Paden.
Paden hopes that the message of “Window in the Wall” is not lost and inspires individuals to find love and hope in a dark world. If he can change just one life by his lyrics, he knows he is doing his job well.
“Songs can change the world.”