Small Town Fears: Justin Moore Shares What Keeps Him Up at Night
Justin Moore's hometown of Poyen, Ark,. has a population the size of a metro graduating class, but he fears the same things you do. His new song "The Ones That Didn't Make It Back Home" is best described as "wholesome," and he's good with having some of that to counteract an increasingly divisive news cycle.
"It's tough to see anything wholesome anymore," Moore tells Taste of Country. "Everybody's so angry. If I wanna put something on my social media that 99 percent of the people agree with, one percent is gonna hate it. I think the one thing that we can all agree on — and if you can't I feel sorry for ya — is that we should support our military and all the people that do all the dirty work that maybe we're not willing to do."
While not afraid to get political, Moore didn't do so on this day. The 34-year-old singer, husband and father of four sort of chuckles when asked about the hot-button issues in Poyen. There's a new Dollar General that's blowing people's minds, as it's the first non-locally owned store in the city limits, ever. He's not afraid of gentrification or urban sprawl yet, but he does worry about his kids after he drops them off at school. Like so many parents who watched news coverage after Sandy Hook, Marysville and most recently Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Moore shudders in disbelief at this very 21st-century threat.
"I drop off three of my kids at one school every morning and my little boy at another. It's definitely scary. As a parent, you struggle with it, or at least I do. But I realize I can't be around my kids 24 hours a day. I have to rely on God to protect them."
For that reason, teachers are another group Moore says he thinks of as being in the line of duty when he sings "The Ones That Didn't Make It Back Home." The song was inspired at the basic level by stories and lessons learned through his grandfathers' respective military experiences, but being a country artist, he's had the opportunity to hear many, many more personal, first-hand accounts of bravery and tragedy. Prior to singing "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Way" every night in concert, he started to pay tribute to the ones that didn't make it back home. One night it clicked: why not write a song about that?
So that's what he did with help from Paul Digiovanni, longtime producer and collaborator Jeremy Stover and Chase McGill. No one in the room was drawing from personal experience aside from Moore imagining how his community would respond to the story he tells in the first verse.
"We'd probably be throwing a big party," he says. "Green bean casserole is one of the staples when my family gets together for stuff like that. It was kind of to grab the attention of the listener, and I think it does that pretty early on in the song."
Before standing up to leave, Taste of Country and Moore talked about raising third graders, and how that's often the age boys and girls start to notice each other in the non-platonic sense. Watch to the end of the video to see his reaction to this very new, very real fear. Now he has two things to keep him awake at night.
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