"And if it looks favor we to be scared to death/ favor a pair of kids just tryin" to save each other/ friend should"ve checked out it in color."

Jamey Johnson"s award-winning 2008 struggle "In Color" — a song about looking earlier at old black and white photos from civilization War II and beyond — to be actually very first inspired by old shots displayed at Nashville"s annual BMI Awards.

You are watching: Should have seen it in color

The song"s co-writer, Lee cutting board Miller, carried up the image in a conversation through Jamey Johnson. A lightbulb immediately went off for both songwriters, and also once they finally got in a room with each other (along through James Otto), a contemporary country classic was born.

Lee cutting board Miller called the "Story Behind the Song" to Bart Herbison of Nashville Songwriters association International.


Bart Herbison: “The Story Behind the tune for the chrischona2015.org this week (features) among my favourite humans, Lee thomas Miller. And it truly is a story song. ‘In Color.’ You created it through Jamey Johnson and also James Otto. What is the story behind it?” 

Lee cutting board Miller: “They’re a little younger 보다 me, so your grandfathers were in the korean War. Mine was in Germany in WWII. But that yes, really wasn’t wherein the idea started. Jamey was having actually a many of success together a songwriter. The was having a number one party for, ns think, ‘Ladies Love nation Boys.’ mine office to be close come BMI in ~ the time and also I simply happened come finish (writing) early. Ns was going to walk over to Jamey’s number one party. Just the previous year, he had won ‘Song of the Year’ with ‘Give it Away.’ Whispering Bill (Anderson) was (a co-writer) on that song. Us all love Bill. He is just one of the last people (still composing songs) from the generation. Ns walk end to Jamey Johnson that is standing external BMI, smoking a cigarette, as he tends to do. Ns just walked up, and we began chatting.


I said, “Man, i thought about you. Have you talked to bill Anderson? A pair weeks back at the BMI Awards, my wife and also I to be sitting there, and ~ above the screens they will certainly run images of past BMI Awards. They might be from critical year and then they’ll go ago and you might see part from the "60s. You’ll have actually lots the black and also white pictures. Girlfriend would have Kitty Wells (standing beside) two human being in suits. Gift the complete country music nerd that ns am, ns told my wife that I would certainly love to recognize who all the human being are in every those old pictures. "Who are the suits? ns wish us were sitting close to invoice Anderson. He’s the just one in this room who might tell united state who every one of the human being in that snapshot are."" Jamey never ever says a word. The listens to the whole story and also he takes a big drag turn off his cigarette and says, “There’s your idea, Hoss. Think that’s something, you shoulda’ seen the in color.”

BH: Wow! 

LTM: i said, "You may be as good as friend think friend are. Don’t create that with anybody else. And he said, "Call me tomorrow."


Of course, the took three months to actually gain him pinned under to carry out it, however he referred to as me on the means in the day and said, “I think we gained a great idea.” 

I think he had (cancelled a write with) James Otto the work before. He obtained there (to the composing appointment) and he is looking in ~ his phone. He said, “Do you recognize James Otto?” ns said, “Yeah!” the asked if ns cared whether James came in v us because he had cancelled the day before. I said, “I don’t care.” 

About 15 minutes later, James come in and by 3 o’clock, we had actually a song.

BH: i bet otto was appreciative.

That is a song.” 

LTM: I think the goes ago to the idea. Ns think it was likewise the record. It was so unique. It most likely took three hours to write. I remember that the leg said, “That’s the story of my life, appropriate there in black and also white.” We had that happening at the finish of every verse and one of the last points we did to be take that out and put it together the bridge. We worked a lot of on the language.

We had a lengthy conversation around how normal civilization were sent out away to war. My grand was a tobacco farmer in Kentucky, and he to be drafted. The went in together a Private and also came out together a Private. That literally went and also saved the world and also went earlier to the tobacco farm. The was the beautiful thing about those that serve. They are simply normal people. There to be a many that conversation. Together you do (though), it eventually needs to be around the girl.

...Things have happened because then that space special to me. 5 or 6 years ago, well after the song (was released,) we visited the WWII Museum in brand-new Orleans, which is more than likely the ideal collection the WWII memorabilia. That made that component of the song that much an ext real come me. I constantly say that it won awards and also did every those things. The song adjusted my life and my career. Every now and then, people will tell me that their grandfather put that in his will to have actually that track played at his funeral.


BH: This was simply laying here. (Holds increase photo) This to be my grandpa, Barton Pullen, who served in maybe the toughest battle in American war History, he was in the Argonne Forrest in WWI. It was just laying there, a black and white picture. Because that him and for your grandpa, and for anyone that ever before served, I give thanks to you. This track summarizes the feeling.

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About the series

In partnership v Nashville Songwriters association International, the "Story Behind the Song" video interview series features Nashville-connected songwriters pointing out one of your compositions. For full video clip interviews with every one of our subjects, visit www.chrischona2015.org/music.