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Stanfield song still touching hearts


David Stevens: Staff photo Clovis native Jana Stanfield said "I

link David Stevens: Staff photo

Clovis native Jana Stanfield said "If I Had Only Known" was inspired by an aunt and her grandparents.


“If I had only known

“It was my last night by your side

“I’d pray a miracle would stop the dawn.”

— from “If I Had Only Known,” by Jana Stanfield and Craig Morris

Some associate the song with Reba McEntire’s band members killed in a 1991 plane crash near San Diego. McEntire sang it on her tribute album, “For My Broken Heart.”

Others probably think it is in honor of rodeo legend Lane Frost, who was killed by a bull in 1989. McEntire performed it in the movie “8 Seconds,” about Frost’s life.

But really, the song was written for Dorothy Stanfield Blair of Grady and others who passed away too soon.

“I worked for my Aunt Dorothy at a car place on Mabry Drive (Doc Stewart Chevrolet) the summer between Yucca Junior High and Clovis High,” co-writer Jana Stanfield said on Friday afternoon.

“That was in my awkward teenage years and she was really good to me.”

Years later, when Jana Stanfield was carving out a recording career in Nashville, Tennessee, she received a call from her cousin, Judy Hall, who was caring for Blair, her mother, as she battled cancer.

“She said ‘If you want to talk to her again, you need to call her,’” Stanfield said.

That was just one inspiration for the song; others include Stanfield's grandparents.

McEntire, according to Stanfield, calls “If I Had Only Known,” the song “too sad to sing” very often.

Stanfield will try to get through it sometime after 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the Civic Center, when she performs a free benefit concert to help a Clovis woman’s family with medical expenses.

Twilla Kos was paralyzed two weeks ago in a 4-wheeler crash near Tres Ritos. Stanfield hopes to raise $5,000 in donations; that will help move Kos from an Albuquerque hospital to Craig Hospital in Denver, which specializes in spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries.

Stanfield said she does not know Twilla Kos, but she has been friends for years with Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce Director Ernie Kos, who is Twilla’s sister-in-law.

Stanfield said she was looking for a reason to perform in her hometown while she’s here to help her father, James Stanfield, recover from open-heart surgery.

Sometimes things just fall into place.

It’s always been like that with this song.

Stanfield, who graduated from Clovis High in 1976, said she recorded the song, but it didn’t attract a lot of attention at first.

“I made copies for my friends and they passed them around,” she said.

Some of those friends had friends at MCA Records, which put together a collection of songs for McEntire to consider.

McEntire obviously liked it.

“When ‘8 Seconds’ said they wanted to use my song sung by Reba, I was a struggling songwriter,” Stanfield said.

“They told me, ‘If we use your song, that will be $17,000.’”

“I said, ‘OK, but it’s going to take me a while to raise that much money.”’

The money from the hit came to her and her co-writer, of course, part of an estimated $100,000 they’ve shared “very, very slowly” through the years, she said.

Songwriting, apparently, is no way to get rich. But it can touch a lot of hearts, which is the purpose of Tuesday’s concert.

David Stevens is editor of the Portales News-Tribune. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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