The Grammys are coming up this weekend, which means we can steel ourselves for another round of award-show political stump speeches. If you’re betting on this sort of thing, I wouldn’t exactly put any money on these statements being explicitly pro-American in nature.
If you’re looking for an antidote to this sort of thing, you could certainly do worse than turning on country superstar Justin Moore’s new single and skipping the broadcast. You’ll save a few hours and instead of getting a lecture about the perfidies of Trump/Republicans/America, you’ll end up hearing a paean to first responders, the military and victims of school shootings.
According to People, “The Ones That Didn’t Make It Back Home” is the first single off of Justin Moore’s new album “Late Nights and Longnecks.” The lyrics both eulogize and praise a soldier from a small town who was killed while also acting as a tribute to all those whose lives were cut down too early.
“Tour was up, middle of June / She was planning a welcome home barbecue,” the song begins. “Green bean casserole, Grandma’s recipe / There was a knock on the door ’round two o’clock / Two uniforms and her heart stopped / Yellow ribbon ’round an oak tree / Blowing in the breeze.”
The video, directed by Moore’s social media director Cody Villalobos, expanded on that theme. According to People, Moore — a former EMT — came up with the concept for the clip during a September trip to play a benefit concert for victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre.
“I felt that only showing military visuals didn’t give tribute to everyone who might connect to this song, and not to all who inspired Justin to write the song in the first place,” Villalobos told People.
“Since we were on our way to a tribute show for a school shooting, that was fresh in my mind. I had to pay tribute and honor the ones that didn’t make it back home from school, as well as home from the line of duty and overseas.”
The video intersperses scenes of troops in the field, first responders in danger and students in the midst of a school shooting. During the video, Moore is shown singing in a fire station, a classroom and a bar.
The last part is in reference to the song’s chorus: “Here’s to the ones that didn’t make it back home / The ones we ain’t seen in so long / The hold up a beer ones, the wish they were here ones / The not forgotten but gone / They’re in a better place up there.”
“I’m of the belief that when God allows you to have a platform like I have, you’re supposed to use it for good,” Moore said during the benefit concert last September.
“I’m a father of four. I send each and every one of them to school every day and drop them off … My first prayer is that they’ll come home safe that afternoon. I can’t even fathom what these families up here — and maybe some of you guys — have had to deal with and the difficulty this has caused.
“Just know that from me and my camp that we’ll be praying for your continued healing and we hope and pray that one day, at some point, you’ll see your loved ones again.”
On his Instagram account, Moore made several posts about the video, including one giving tribute to “the families that live in the reality of this video, and to the ones that didn’t make it back home.”
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Here’s to the families that live in the reality of this video, and to the ones that didn’t make it back home… Thanks to @codyvillalobos for making a great video to honor all of these men, women, and children. @people exclusive link in bio! What’d y’all think of the video?
If the video wasn’t patriotic enough already, People notes that the clip was shot on Veterans Day last year and featured real firefighters. In addition, vets were employed on set to instruct those playing the soldiers how to correctly put on their gear.
The clip was uploaded on YouTube earlier this week, which should make it perfect on-demand counter-programming for the Grammys. In under three-and-a-half minutes, Moore managed a touching tribute to the men and women who serve us — men and women who too often don’t make it back.
Moore’s last album, “Kinda Don’t Care,” debuted at #4 back in 2016. With the buzz this video is generating, it wouldn’t be surprising to see an even bigger first-week haul when “Late Nights and Longnecks” is released on April 26.
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