"And if it looks choose we were scared to death/ Like a pair of children simply tryin" to save each other/ You should"ve checked out it in shade."

Jamey Johnson"s award-winning 2008 hit "In Color" — a song around looking ago at old babsence and also white photos from World War II and also beyond — was actually initially influenced by old shots displayed at Nashville"s annual BMI Awards.

You are watching: Should have seen it in color song

The song"s co-writer, Lee Thomas Miller, brought up the photos in a conversation via Jamey Johnson. A lightbulb instantly went off for both songauthors, and also as soon as they finally got in a room together (in addition to James Otto), a contemporary nation classical was born.

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


Bart Herbison: “The Story Behind the Song for the jiyuushikan.org this week (features) among my favorite people, Lee Thomas Miller. And it truly is a story song. ‘In Color.’ You composed it via Jamey Johnchild and also James Otto. What is the story behind it?” 

Lee Thomas Miller: “They’re a little younger than me, so their grandfathers were in the Oriental War. Mine remained in Germany in WWII. But that really wasn’t where the principle started. Jamey was having actually a lot of success as a songwriter. He was having a number one party for, I think, ‘Ladies Love Country Boys.’ My office was close to BMI at the time and I simply occurred to finish (writing) early on. I was going to walk over to Jamey’s number one party. Just the previous year, he had actually won ‘Song of the Year’ with ‘Give It Away.’ Whispering Bill (Anderson) was (a co-writer) on that song. We all love Bill. He is one of the last people (still creating songs) from that generation. I walk over to Jamey Johnkid that is standing outside BMI, cigarette smoking a cigarette, as he tends to execute. I just walked up, and we started chatting.


I shelp, “Man, I assumed around you. Have you talked to Bill Anderson? A couple weeks ago at the BMI Awards, my wife and I were sitting there, and also on the screens they will run photos of past BMI Awards. They may be from last year and then they’ll go earlier and you might check out some from the "60s. You’ll have actually many black and also white images. You would have actually Kitty Wells (standing beside) two civilization in suits. Being the complete country music nerd that I am, I told my wife that I would love to understand that all the human being are in all those old pictures. "Who are the suits? I wish we were sitting close to Bill Anderchild. He’s the only one in this room who could tell us who all of the people in that image are."" Jamey never before states a word. He listens to the whole story and he takes a big drag off his cigarette and also states, “There’s your concept, Hoss. Think that’s something, you shoulda’ checked out it in color.”

BH: Wow! 

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


Of course, it took 3 months to actually acquire him pinned dvery own to carry out it, yet he called me on the means in that day and sassist, “I think we acquired an excellent principle.” 

I think he had (cancelled a create with) James Otto the day prior to. He got there (to the writing appointment) and he’s looking at his phone. He sassist, “Do you know James Otto?” I sassist, “Yeah!” He asked if I cared whether James came in via us because he had cancelled the day before. I shelp, “I don’t treatment.” 

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

BH: I bet Otto was appreciative.

That is a song.” 

LTM: I think that goes back to the idea. I think it was also the document. It was so distinct. It more than likely took three hours to create. I remember that the bridge shelp, “That’s the story of my life, right there in black and white.” We had that happening at the end of eincredibly verse and among the last points we did was take that out and also put it as the bridge. We functioned a lot on the language.

We had a long conversation around just how normal people were sent out amethod to battle. My grandpa was a tobacco farmer in Kentucky, and he was drafted. He went in as a Private and came out as a Private. He literally went and also saved the human being and also went back to the tobacco farm. That was the beautiful thing around those that serve. They are simply normal people. Tright here was a lot of that conversation. As you do (though), it ultimately needs to be about the girl.

...Things have actually happened given that then that are special to me. Five or 6 years earlier, well after the song (was released,) we saw the WWII Museum in New Orleans, which is most likely the ideal arsenal of WWII memorabilia. That made that part of the song that much more actual to me. I constantly say that it won awards and also did all those things. That song changed my life and also my career. Eexceptionally now and then, world will certainly tell me that their grandpa put it in his will to have that song played at his funeral.


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

See more: Why Do Colored Candles Burn Faster Than White Candles, Do White Candles Burn Faster Than Colored Candles

About the series

In partnership through Nashville Songauthors Association International, the "Story Behind the Song" video interview series functions Nashville-associated songwriters pointing out among their compositions. For full video interviews with all of our topics, visit www.jiyuushikan.org/music.