Displaying items by tag: Alan Jackson

Today's Song You Should Know: Alan Jackson - 'Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)'

11 September, 2021

While country music in 2021 might seem like it's more about tight shorts and drinking beer in the bed of your truck than real emotions, the genre has always been much more than that. The best country music not only tells a story but it provides an emotional connection between the music and the listener. And as we remember the events on 9/11, I wanted to highlight the one great song to come out of that event: Alan Jackson's haunting "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)."

In the days following 9/11, Jackson had struggled to process the events and according to an interview he later gave to Christianity Today, he wanted to find the right tone: "I didn't want to write a patriotic song," Jackson said. "And I didn't want it to be vengeful, either. But I didn't want to forget about how I felt and how I knew other people felt that day."

Jackson resisted recording the song because he worried it might seem as if he was somehow trying to capitalize on the tragedy. But everyone he played the song for encouraged him to record and release it. And when he played the song for track for a group of executives at his record label days after recording it, "We just kind of looked at one another," RCA Label Group chairman Joe Galante said later. "Nobody spoke for a full minute."

The song was introduced to the public live at the Country Music Association Awards, which aired on CBS in November, 2001. He had originally planned to perform his then-current #1 Country song "Where I Come From," but the decision was made at the last minute for Jackson to sing "Where Were You" instead. The audience simply knew Jackson was going to sing a new tune, but four CMA executives had previewed the track ahead of time and they were all crying by the end of the song.

The performance was one of those rare television musical moments that everyone was talking about the next day. Within weeks, the song was a #1 hit on the Country charts and it reached #28 on the Pop Top 100 chart. "Where Were You" is one of the few songs inspired by 9/11 that isn't overtly political or patriotic. It's about the struggle to make sense of tragedy and loss and that's why it's easily the song you should know today.

Here are the complete lyrics to the song, with the video below:

Where were you when the world stopped turnin'
That September day?
Were you in the yard with your wife and children
Or workin' on some stage in L.A.?
Did you stand there in shock at the sight of that black smoke
Risin' against that blue sky?
Did you shout out in anger, in fear for your neighbor
Or did you just sit down and cry?

Did you weep for the children, they lost their dear loved ones
Pray for the ones who don't know?
Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble
And sob for the ones left below?
Did you burst out with pride for the red, white, and blue
And the heroes who died just doin' what they do?
Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer
And look at yourself and what really matters?

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN, but I'm not sure I can tell you
The diff'rence in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope, and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love

Where were you when the world stopped turnin'
That September day?
Teachin' a class full of innocent children
Or drivin' down some cold interstate?
Did you feel guilty 'cause you're a survivor?
In a crowded room did you feel alone?
Did you call up your mother and tell her you love her?
Did you dust off that Bible at home?

Did you open your eyes and hope it never happened
Close your eyes and not go to sleep?
Did you notice the sunset for the first time in ages
And speak to some stranger on the street?
Did you lay down at night and think of tomorrow
Go out and buy you a gun?
Did you turn off that violent old movie you're watchin'
And turn on I Love Lucy reruns?
Did you go to a church and hold hands with some strangers
Stand in line to give your own blood?
Did you just stay home and cling tight to your family
Thank God you had somebody to love?

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN, but I'm not sure I can tell you
The diff'rence in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope, and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love

And the greatest is love

And the greatest is love

And the greatest is love

Where were you when the world stopped turnin'

On that September day?