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11 Years Ago: Rodney Atkins Earns His First No. 1 Hit

Rodney Atkins If You're Going Through Hell single cover
Curb Nashville

Eleven years ago today (Aug. 12, 2006) was a day of celebration for Rodney Atkins:┬áIt was on that date that the singer earned his first No. 1 hit with “If You’re Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows).” The song was the title track of Atkins’ sophomore album, which also landed at the top of the charts.

Written by Dave Berg, along with husband-and-wife songwriting team Sam and Annie Tate, “If You’re Going Through Hell” was inspired by both Winston Churchill’s famous quote, “If you’re going through hell, keep going,” and the well-known Irish toast, “May you be in Heaven five minutes before the devil knows you’re dead.” With lines such as, “If you’re going through hell, keep on going / Don’t slow down, if you’re scared, don’t show it / You might get out before the devil even knows you’re there,” the tune also became Atkins’ first gold-selling single, signifying sales of 500,000 copies.

“If You’re Going Through Hell” stayed at the top of the charts for four weeks and was the No. 1 song of the year on Billboard‘s year-end chart for 2006. The song set off a string of No. 1 hits for Atkins: His sophomore album’s following three singles — “Watching You,” “These Are My People” and “Cleaning This Gun (Come on in Boy)” — each landed in the top spot on the charts as well.

“If You’re Going Through Hell” was nominated for Song of the Year at the ACM Awards, and the record was nominated for Album of the Year. The song is available for download on iTunes.

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