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Story Behind the Song: Justin Moore, ‘If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away’

In the mid-2000s, Dallas Davidson, Rob Hatch and Brett Jones co-wrote “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away.” Rhett Akins recorded the song and released it as a single in September of 2006, but it was Justin Moore‘s version, released as a single in February of 2011, that made the song a smash hit. The tune, which comes from Moore’s second studio album, Outlaws Like Me, became the singer’s second No. 1 song. Below, Davidson, Hatch and Jones recall writing “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away.”

Dallas Davidson: We were all talking about Brett’s brother, who he lost in the Vietnam War; Rob and I brought up our granddads. We were all saying, “I wish I could go see him. Once they are gone, they are gone.”

I can’t remember who first said it, but we all knew it was a good title. Then we started playing our guitars, and Brett already had a melody going. The lyrics just flew out. Once we had the ideas, we just painted the pictures. I really had a dog named Beau, and I said, “I wish I could take him hunting one more time.”

We’re all from small towns, and being from small towns, there were fruit stands on every corner. We tried to make the characters such that everybody who hears the song can relate to it.

Rob Hatch: When we wrote it, Dallas and I didn’t even have publishing deals yet.

A lot of the places in it are real: The Flint River Bridge is where Dallas and Brett are from; they are Georgia boys. We all had our own images to add.

When we got finished with the song, Brett said, “Boys, this is a hit.”

Brett Jones: Dallas came in and said he saw a little girl on TV, and she said, “Heaven is so far away.” So then I said, “I had a lot of people die in my life.” We started talking: My older brother was killed in Vietnam, and my little brother died in a motorcycle accident. My dad died when he was only 61. We all lost people we loved. We all started talking, and the song sort of wrote itself; it magically came together.

My sister can’t listen to it; it makes her cry. Still, the song has an uplifting, subliminal message.

This story was originally written by Nancy Dunham, and revised by Angela Stefano.

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