Justin Moore's recent album Late Nights and Longnecks (Valory Music Co./ Big Machine Label Group) includes one of country music's most moving tributes to the military in recent memory, "The Ones That Didn't Make It Back Home."
Moore co-wrote the song with Paul DiGiovanni, Chase McGill and album co-producer Jeremy Stover. Its music video, directed by former EMT Cody Villalobos, pays tribute to the loved ones torn apart by the dangers faced in the line of duty by soldiers, police officers, firefighters and first responders in scenarios ranging from overseas combat to school shootings.
Moore recently chatted with Wide Open Country about how his latest album's lead single reflects his appreciation of family and freedom on Veterans Day.
"Growing up, it was instilled in me the importance of honoring the men and women who serve," says Moore, the grandson of two military veterans. "That's something that's certainly been part of my career with different events that we've done and different songs we've recorded and charity stuff we've been apart of over the years. It's something I'm looking forward to impressing on my own children."
Read More: 20 Most Patriotic Country Songs
Patriotism within country music dates back to the days of Bob Wills' "Smoke on the Water" and took center-stage in more recent times through the songs of Johnny Cash ("Ragged Old Flag"), Toby Keith ("American Soldier"), Chely Wright ("Bumper of My SUV") and other Nashville stars. Inspiration for Moore to join this rich lineage has more to do with respecting soldiers' sacrifices than mirroring his favorite performers.
"You're kind of taken aback meeting these men and women, whether it be in a meet-and-greet or whether it be playing a base or whatever the case may be," Moore says. "It's amazing that they immediately come up and thank you. I'm sure I'm not the only artist who's experienced that. I don't deserve any 'thank you' at all. I get to go play music for a living and do what I love and know that my family's as safe as can be because of what you guys do.
"They always thank you because whether they're in Afghanistan or Iraq or wherever they may be in hostile environments, they're like this song or this album got me through," he adds. "To me, it's always fun to have hit records and go play shows, but when you hear that kind of stuff, it speaks to the power of music and art as a whole. We all know this, but we need to be reminded at times of how powerful our words and what we do as entertainers can be to people."
Moore has eight career No. 1 hits and is currently promoting new single "Why We Drink." His headlining Late Nights and Longnecks Tour begins in early 2020.