Story Behind the Song: Rodney Atkins, ‘Watching You’
Co-written by Atkins, Steve Dean and White, "Watching You" became Atkins' second No. 1 song, and the No. 1 country song of 2007, when it was released as the second single from his If You're Going Through Hell album. As White tells The Boot, the song never would have happened without Atkins' first chart-topping tune, "If You're Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)" and the singer's precocious son, Elijah.
I wrote the song with a buddy of mine, Steve Dean, and Rodney. Rodney was coming into the writing appointment, and he was late by a few minutes. He said, "I'm sorry, guys, I had to stop by the daycare and talk to Elijah's teacher. She wanted to talk to me because Elijah was standing in line going, 'If you're going through hell, hell, hell.'"
And I said, "You know, you probably don't want him saying that."
Rodney said, "I want him to understand the sentiment of the song, but I have to teach him not to say that."
I told him, "Man, he's just watching you. He's picking up on what Dad does."
Rodney's eyes lit up, and he goes, "Wow. We need to write that."
We wrote that that day -- wrote the verse and the chorus and talked about what the second verse would be about, and the fact that it's not always the things we see our parents do that we pick up on that are bad habits. I remember seeing my Dad praying, kneeling at the bed. We all said, those are the things that impact us that we remember.
Rodney went home that night, and we kind of fed those directions to him. He wrote it that night. He said, "I played it for [his now-ex-wife] Tammy Jo. She laughed. She cried. I think we did it."
I still, to this day, get e-mails, and we run into people all the time who say, "That song changed the way I parent my child. It impacted me." I've had pastors write to me and say, "I used it in a Father's Day message at church. We played the video." And country radio embraced it. We got emails from country radio saying, "We needed a song like this." Rodney did a great job with it.