One of the hallmarks of country music is its ability to tell real-life stories about love, loss and other life experiences that connect with listeners in a profound way. Examples of these deep storytelling songs are present throughout country music history -- from Hank Williams and George Jones, to more modern artists such as Vince Gill, Clint Black and Brad Paisley. Steve Wariner's hit, "Holes In The Floor Of Heaven," is one of these songs that tells a sad story in a poignant way.
"Holes In The Floor Of Heaven" was released in 1998 as the lead single from Wariner's album, Burnin' The Roadhouse Down. The general premise of the song is that there are "holes in the floor of heaven" that passed loved ones can use to look down on their family members on earth. The tune's songwriters, Wariner and Billy Kirsch, described this sad, yet comforting premise by telling a story from the perspective of a man who has lost two very important people in his life.
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The story begins in the first verse with Wariner singing from the perspective of a young boy "one day shy eight years old" who has just lost his grandmother. Although the song describes him as a "broken hearted little boy" blowing out his birthday cake after his grandma's death, the boy's mother explains that she's still watching over them, and that the "cold lonesome rain" that the sky let out is really her tears.
"'Cause there's holes in the floor of Heaven, and her tears are pouring down / That's how you know she's watching, wishing she could be here now. / And sometimes if you're lonely, just remember she can see / There's holes in the floor of Heaven, and she's watching over you and me," sings Wariner in the chorus.
The song continues into the second verse, in which Warner, now an adult, describes meeting the love of his life and marrying her. By the end of the verse, however, it is clear that his wife has passed away, but he again finds comfort in the fact that she is watching over him. Then in the third verse, Wariner details the wedding of his 23-year-old daughter. While it is a momentous day, he wishes his wife was there to see their daughter's "lovely smile" on such a special occasion. As the couple is leaving the church, rain starts to fall yet again, and his daughter reminds him that it's just her mother crying with them.
The Story Behind the Song
Although, "Holes In The Floor Of Heaven" is arguably one of the saddest songs in country music, it's also one that provides the listener with a level of solace to know that loved ones are still looking over them. While Wariner and Kirsch were the ones to physically write the song, the original song idea came from their wives. According to The Tennessean, Wariner and Kirsch had set out to write more uptempo song on the day of their writing session, but at the suggestion of Wariner's wife, Caryn, they decided to write a story song.
"My wife, Caryn, and she's my publisher, so rightfully she could jump in and say this, she hears us talking in the living room and she says, 'You guys have never written a story-type song, like a real, true story song. Why don't you guys maybe go down that road a moment,'" said Wariner.
After they changed their tune to writing a story song, Kirsch mentioned that his wife Julie had come up with a song title called "Holes In The Floor Of Heaven" from something she read. That title combined with the fact that Kirsch's grandmother had just died about five days prior was the inspiration for what would become an iconic song.
In April 2020, Wariner invited his "Burnin' The Roadhouse Down" duet partner Garth Brooks on an episode of his Facebook series, Wariner Wednesdays, where he talked more about the background of the song. Wariner shared that Brooks had the chance to listen to the original mix soon after the song was written, and the track was quickly released to radio after that. Wariner also noted in The Tennessean that he was inundated with letters after releasing the song.
Since its release, "Holes In The Floor Of Heaven" has gone on to become an anthem for anyone who has lost a loved one. It has been played at funerals, and as Brooks noted in the Facebook conversation, it has also been played at weddings. The song was a hit for the former Kentucky resident, landing at No. 2 on the Billboard US Country chart. It also became the Country Music Association (CMA) and Academy of Country Music (ACM) Song of the Year in 1998.