Before Texan singer-songwriter and former U.S. Marine Cody Wayne sat down to write "Remember the Lost Ones," he struggled to find the words to talk about his experience serving in Iraq. "But for me, the way I got things out was -- and is -- to write songs," he tells The Boot. "I wanted to write a song about the first person point of view of that story ... and kind of tell my side of it."

The song, which is premiering on The Boot, began as Wayne's quest to articulate his experience of war and loss, but it quickly became about much more. He began to think about his fellow veterans who didn't have an outlet, such as songwriting, through which they could express themselves. Even more distressingly, he thought about those who lost their lives in combat, who had lost their voice altogether.

"It wasn't shame, it wasn't guilt -- well, maybe it was guilt -- but it was the overwhelming sense of 'It's not right,'" Wayne continues. "I made it back to tell my story. That's pretty crappy of me, to do that."

The singer realized that "Remember the Lost Ones" was about more than just his story: "It kind of morphed into, like, 'Okay, this is bigger than me,'" he remembers.

In addition to writing it, Wayne produced the track. He says that, throughout the process, he labored over every little lyric, sound and dynamic, determined to make the song sound precisely how he wanted it to sound.

"Even up to the day, when I'm driving to the studio that morning to record the vocal tracks, I just had this feeling of 'No, it needs to say this right here.' I just kind of let [the song] take over, if that makes sense," he says. "I wanted to take the music and tell you what's happening. I wanted people to feel it and see it and smell it, before they heard it."

Wayne used every aspect of the song -- right down to each individual instrument -- to create this multi-sensory experience. "Imagine you're sitting on top of a mountain, you're sitting on a guard post or on top of a building, by yourself, looking over everything. And then, off in the distance, you hear an explosion. Everybody responds to it, and you hear the machine guns firing," Wayne says. "So the kick drum is the distant explosion, and the snare drum is the five-round burst from a machine gun. The way it plays together gives you a feeling of being there ... tasting the dirt when it hits you in the mouth. Smelling [like you need] to take a shower."

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Wayne doesn't often write quite that visually. However, he wrote "Remember the Lost Ones" out of a desperate desire for others to understand his experience, and he took a cinematic approach to make listening to the song as immersive an experience as possible. As the song evolved, Wayne found a new reason to work hard to make listeners understand that experience, as he realized how many veterans were out there unable to talk about what happened to them.

"There are people that made it back that are suffering from PTSD. There are," Wayne stresses. "There's shame. There's guilt that you made it back and your buddies didn't."

Wayne may have began writing the song to tell his own story, but he finished it for the sake of his fellow veterans who struggle to open up about their experience. He hopes the song will give listeners some deeper insight into the toll war takes on the lives of those fighting it.

"I think it really gives a lot of credit and hits home, even more than just saying, 'Hey, tell somebody thank you for their service,'" Wayne adds.

"Remember the Lost Ones" comes off of Wayne's latest album, Bad Influence. Visit to learn more.

Listen to Cody Wayne's "Remember the Lost Ones"

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