Justin Moore celebrates 8th No. 1 – By Preshias Harris for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

Justin Moore celebrates 8th
No. 1

Remembers “The Ones That Didn’t Make
It Back Home”

By Preshias Harris for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

Justin Moore remembered “The Ones That
Didn’t Make It Back Home” (Valory Music Group) at a No. 1 party in Nashville on
05 February.  Justin was joined by his
co-writers Jeremy Stover, Chase McGill and Paul DiGiovanni. Stover produced the
song with Big Machine Records chief, Scott Borchetta.

The song is Justin’s eighth No. 1 single.
For the other writers, it was Jeremy’s seventh No. 1, Chase’s fourth and Paul’s
second chart-topper. It was also Jeremy’s thirteenth No. 1 as a producer. Paul
is also lead guitarist with the rock band, Boys Like Girls.

Before the award ceremony, I sat down with
other members of the music media as we talked to Justin, Jeremy, Chase and
Paul.

Justin began by talking about how audience
reaction to one of his earlier No. 1 songs, combined with his admiration of his
grandfathers’ military service, inspired the creation of “The Ones That Didn’t
Make It Back Home.”

“We had a song out, eight or nine years
ago, ‘If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away,’ and it was a big record for us,” said
Justin.  “Every night on stage, for those
of you who have seen us play, we would say the same thing to intro that song
every night, which was just talking about our service men and women.  I would give a little spiel about both my
grandfathers serving in the military and then I would always end it by saying,
‘We’ll send this out to the ones that didn’t make it back home.’ I did that for
eight years and I don’t know why it took me so long to figure out that might be
a song idea and a title for a song.”

He pointed to his co-writers and added,
“These guys happened to be on the bus that weekend. For whatever reason, it hit
me one night that it might be a song idea and I came back to the bus after the
show and said, ‘I’ve got this idea, I don’t know if it’s any good.’  I told these guys and they all looked at each
other.  That means one of two things.
Either it’s a really good idea or it’s terrible and they don’t want to hurt my
feelings.  Fortunately, it was the former
and we finished it the next day, I guess.”

I said that the lyrics to “The Ones That
Didn’t Make It Back Home” focus on the military, but the music video includes
firefighters, police and first-responders too.

“I think that’s a big part of it,” replied
Chase. “When we are out [with Justin] I love watching the show and when Justin
does that intro to “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” I think Justin is the first
artist I’ve seen that really covers everybody. Teachers, everybody.  So I guess for me it was just built in with
the idea.”

Justin picked up on that point. “When we’re
traveling around, the different events I’m a part of, our military gets some
credit – not as much as they deserve, but they do get some credit,” he said. “It
seems to me that all these other groups of people seem to get forgotten. Police
officers, teachers, nurses, coastguards and more. They seem to get zero credit.
So shooting the video, we kind of wanted to channel onto all of those
groups.  We didn’t get to all of them,
but a number of them.”

Paul DiGiovanni added some of his thoughts.
“I bumped into Justin at a video event at the end of last year and the radio
station that put [the event] on, when he was playing the song, they played
their own slide show,” he recalled. “It felt like they had, like, a hundred
people that had passed in the community – some were armed forces, some were
first responders, every walk of life from the community.  So I felt that was a natural thing that
happened with the song, where people made it their own which was really cool to
see.”

Following up on that, I said that, looking
at the writers’ credits on Late Nights and Longnecks, it seems like Justin
and the guys are like a family.  I wanted
to know if it stays that way when they travel together on the bus and about the
songs on the album got written on the bus. 

“I think on this album, two of the songs
were written on the same trip, ‘On the Rocks’ and ‘For Those Who Didn’t Make It
Back Home,’” said Jeremy Stover.  “Other
than that, it was at Justin’s house in Florida. I think it’s really important
now to kind of find a focus and everyone understands the focus. Producing the
record and everything like that, for me, a big part of my job is to put the
pieces together. For example, Justin had never worked with Chase or Paul
before. Obviously, I had and I thought this is going to be a really good match.
It helps us grow, it helps us create new things.”

Justin talked about how audiences have
reacted to ‘The Ones That Didn’t Make It Back Home’ during his live shows and
what that means to him.

“Some songs are hits or whatever you want
to call them but they don’t get an instant reaction when people don’t know it
yet,” he said.  “But this one, obviously,
when we played it to an attentive audience that actually listened to lyrics and
weren’t just throwin’ back shots and beer and ready to raise hell, you could
tell that this song was pretty special. 
For me, being at meet and greets – even early on in the life of the song
– people were telling me how they were relating the song to their own lives and
stories of their loved ones or themselves who had served or were currently
serving.”

 

He added, “It was pretty special early on
from my perspective of playing it live. 
I knew that the song had an opportunity to be more than just a hit
song.  I mean we’re all in this business
to write hit songs to make money and support our families and it’s good for all
of our careers. But speaking for myself, and I think all these guys [the
writers] it’s even more special when you’re part of a song like this that can
be more than just a hit record. When you talk to people and it has helped them
through a difficult time.”

Jeremy Stover chimed in at that point.  “If I can just add a little bit to that,” he
said.  “There are a lot of songs like ‘I
love you, I don’t love you, I miss you, I wish I had you back,’ but these kind
of ‘lifestyle’ songs, in my opinion, are so important for country music.  It really is a country music thing and I
think it is really important that we don’t lose sight of that in the format
because there’s a lot of land between coast to coast there that I think, on a
daily basis, people that work hard, try to do the best for their kids, relate
to this [song] in a big way. To me, that goes a lot past the ‘I love you, I
don’t love, wish I had you back kind of songs. 
I’ve written a ton of those and had hits with them. But these are my
favorite kind of songs, because the people that relate to this kind of song are
the people I grew up with.”

“Why We Drink” is the second single from
Justin’s album, Late Nights and Longnecks. Justin said that he and his
wife Kate were out to dinner with his parents a couple of years ago and it took
a long time to get their food. Justin ordered a drink, then another and
another.

“My mom said, ‘Why do you drink so much?’
and I was like, ‘Hell, I don’t know,’” Justin recalled.  “I thought about it.  As songwriters you listen to people with song
titles in mind. We were writing for this album and I had this idea: ‘Why do
we drink?’ I said, I’ve got this idea, ‘Why do we drink?’
and I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t remember if it was Jeremy or who
it was, who said ‘Because it’s Friday, because it’s Monday, because our team
lost, because our team won.’ And I went, ‘Yeah, kind of all of the above!’ So
we went with it and probably wrote in forty-five minutes.”

So… does Justin’s mom get a share of the
song’s royalties?

“I still ain’t told her because I don’t want
to give her any of the money for it,” joked Justin with a laugh.  “It’s already a four or five-way [writers’
royalty split], we don’t need to make it a six-way!  No, we just shot the video for it a couple of
weeks ago and she makes a little cameo appearance in it, which she is totally
uncomfortable with.  We kind of re-create
the little story of the beginning of it.”

Justin is heading out on tour to support
his new album. “The Late Nights and Long Neck Tour, for me to have the
opportunity to go out [on tour] with a guy that I’ve looked up to for a long
time, Tracy Lawrence, and now calling him a buddy, this is really special and
really cool for me,” he said. “We’ve only played one show so far. We had a couple
cancel due to weather. I’m certainly looking forward to it and it’s a huge
honor for me. He’s one of the guys I looked up to when I was growing up. Throw
in the fact that he’s from Arkansas as well, it just compounded my fandom of
him by a million times.”

Justin and his co-writers expressed the
importance of their families in their lives. Justin noted that his children are
unimpressed by his fame. “Now they just get annoyed by the fact that I’ll be
coaching their basketball game and after the game I’ve got to sign a bunch of
autographs,” he said.  “It’s just
embarrassing to them now, what I do and who I am, I guess. They’re like, ‘Dad
can we please go to Chick-Fill-A!’”

With the look of a proud father, he added,
“My oldest daughter this week was saved and accepted Jesus as her Savior.
That’s probably the proudest moment I’ve experienced as a dad. She was like,
‘Dad please don’t make a big deal out of this.’   Sorry, I have to make a big deal out of
this!”

1. In media room.  (Left to Right): Chase McGill, Paul DiGiovanni, Justin Moore, Jeremy Stover.  Photo credit: Preshias Harris.


2. Pictured
(L-R): Producer and BMLG’s Scott Borchetta, songwriter Chase McGill,
The Valory Music Co.’s Chris Palmer, Justin Moore, The Valory Music
Co.’s Athena Puharic, songwriter and producer Jeremy Stover, The Valory
Music Co.’s Ashley Sidoti, songwriter Paul DiGiovanni, The Valory Music
Co.’s George Briner and Christy DiNapoli. Photo credit: Steve Lowry


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