"And if it looks prefer we were scared to death/ Like a pair of kids simply tryin" to conserve each other/ You should"ve watched it in shade."

Jamey Johnson"s award-winning 2008 hit "In Color" — a song about looking earlier at old black and white photos from World War II and beyond — was actually initially inspired by old shots shown at Nashville"s yearly BMI Awards.

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The song"s co-writer, Lee Thomas Miller, carried up the photos in a conversation via Jamey Johnchild. A lightbulb instantly went off for both songwriters, and when they lastly got in a room together (in addition to James Otto), a contemporary nation timeless was born.

Lee Thomas Miller told the "Story Behind the Song" to Bart Herbichild of Nashville Songwriters Association Internationwide.


Bart Herbison: “The Story Behind the Song for the lutz-heilmann.info this week (features) one of my favorite humans, Lee Thomas Miller. And it truly is a story song. ‘In Color.’ You wrote it via Jamey Johnson and James Otto. What is the story behind it?” 

Lee Thomas Miller: “They’re a little younger than me, so their grandfathers were in the Korean War. Mine remained in Germany kind of in WWII. But that really wasn’t wright here the concept began. Jamey was having actually a lot of success as a songwriter. He was having a number one party for, I think, ‘Ladies Love Counattempt Boys.’ My office was cshed to BMI at the time and also I just taken place to finish (writing) beforehand. I was going to walk over to Jamey’s number one party. Just the previous year, he had won ‘Tune of the Year’ through ‘Give It Ameans.’ Whispering Bill (Anderson) was (a co-writer) on that song. We all love Bill. He is just one of the last people (still creating songs) from that generation. I walk over to Jamey Johnson that is standing exterior BMI, smoking cigarettes a cigarette, as he tends to carry out. I just walked up, and also we started chatting.


I sassist, “Man, I believed around you. Have you talked to Bill Anderson? A couple weeks earlier at the BMI Awards, my wife and also I were sitting tbelow, and also on the screens they will run photos of past BMI Awards. They may be from last year and also then they’ll go ago and also you may check out some from the "60s. You’ll have actually numerous babsence and also white pictures. You would certainly have actually Kitty Wells (standing beside) 2 human being in suits. Being the complete country music nerd that I am, I told my wife that I would certainly love to know who all the human being are in all those old photos. "Who are the suits? I wish we were sitting cshed to Bill Anderchild. He’s the just one in this room who can tell us that all of the world in that picture are."" Jamey never before states a word. He listens to the totality story and he takes a big drag off his cigarette and states, “There’s your principle, Hoss. Think that’s something, you shoulda’ seen it in shade.”

BH: Wow! 

LTM: I said, "You may be as good as you think you are. Don’t write that with anybody else. And he shelp, "Call me tomorrow."


Of course, it took three months to actually gain him pinned down to carry out it, yet he called me on the means in that day and also shelp, “I think we got a great idea.” 

I think he had (cancelled a write with) James Otto the day before. He acquired there (to the composing appointment) and also he’s looking at his phone. He shelp, “Do you recognize James Otto?” I shelp, “Yeah!” He asked if I cared whether James came in through us bereason he had cancelled the day before. I said, “I don’t treatment.” 

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

BH: I bet Otto was appreciative.

That is a song.” 

LTM: I think that goes ago to the principle. I think it was also the record. It was so distinctive. It probably took three hrs to create. I remember that the bridge sassist, “That’s the story of my life, right tright here in black and also white.” We had actually that happening at the end of eextremely verse and also among the last points we did was take that out and put it as the bridge. We worked a lot on the language.

We had actually a lengthy conversation about exactly how normal civilization were sent out amethod to war. My grandfather was a tobacco farmer in Kentucky, and he was drafted. He went in as a Private and also came out as a Private. He literally went and conserved the people and also went back to the tobacco farm. That was the beautiful thing around those who serve. They are simply normal human being. Tright here was a lot of that conversation. As you do (though), it inevitably demands to be about the girl.

...Things have happened since then that are special to me. Five or six years earlier, well after the song (was released,) we checked out the WWII Museum in New Orleans, which is more than likely the best collection of WWII memorabilia. That made that part of the song that much more real to me. I constantly say that it won awards and did all those points. That song adjusted my life and also my career. Eincredibly currently and then, civilization will certainly tell me that their grandpa put it in his will to have actually that song played at his funeral.


BH: This was simply laying below. (Holds up photo) This was my grandpa, Barton Pullen, that served in arguably the toughest battle in Amerideserve to War History, he was in the Argonne Forrest in WWI. It was just laying tright here, a babsence and also white photo. For him and also for your grandpa, and for everybody that ever before offered, I give thanks to you. This song summarizes the feeling.

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About the series

In partnership via Nashville Songwriters Association International, the "Story Behind the Song" video intercheck out series features Nashville-linked songwriters mentioning one of their compositions. For full video interviews with every one of our topics, visit www.lutz-heilmann.info/music.