Country star Tim McGraw‘s live performance of “If You’re Reading This” provided the most emotional moment during the 2007 Academy of Country Music Awards, held in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The moment McGraw sang the emotional tribute to the families of fallen soldiers, tears began to flow in the arena packed with industry executives and fans. Toward the end of the performance, stage lights revealed nearly a hundred of soldiers’ spouses, children, and relatives who stood in memory of their loved ones — in total representing thirty-two fallen heroes.
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Shortly after, several radio stations – in Chicago, Detroit, Nashville, Des Moines, Iowa, and Riverside, California, among other markets – started playing a telecast of the song, boosting it to a debut at No. 35 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts from unsolicited airplay.
In November 2007, “If You’re Reading This” peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard country charts and also reached No. 41 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The Story Behind The Song
Written by Tim McGraw with the Warren Brothers – Brad and Brett Warren – “If You’re Reading This” is about the letters soldiers write to their mothers, fathers, and beloved wives in the event that they’re killed.
“So, lay me down in that open field out on the edge of town and know my soul is where my momma always prayed that it would go. And if you’re reading this, I’m already home,” the song goes.
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McGraw said Brett and Brad Warren wrote the song after reading a magazine article on war casualties. The singer said, “Not only is it a human being and a soldier who has died, but the ripple effect from that… The families that are affected, the children, the wives, the parents, the cousins, the friends.”
A week after writing the song, McGraw found himself having a hard time falling asleep and, at two in the morning, he got the idea to debut the song at the ACM Awards. McGraw also decided to have some soldiers’ families on stage but did not tell the families, even the show’s producers, what the song was.
It proved to be incredibly emotional for McGraw to sing it, knowing they were all hearing it for the first time.
“It was hard to hold it together. There were a few spots where it kind of fell apart for me, but I was able to keep it together,” McGraw said.
But the singer did not realize the impact of the song until afterward when one of the children from the stage approached him. “This little five-year-old blonde girl came up and kind of tugged on my shirt and said, you know, ‘you just sang a song about my dad, didn’t you?'” Tim recalled, adding, “I just hope no matter what side of the politics you fall on, there’s people going over there and sacrificing their lives for what they’re sent to do.”
You can listen to the heart-tugging song, “If You’re Reading This” by Tim McGraw in the video below.