"And if the looks like we were scared to death/ favor a pair of children just tryin" to conserve each other/ friend should"ve checked out it in color."

Jamey Johnson"s award-winning 2008 struggle "In Color" — a song about looking earlier at old black and white photos from people War II and beyond — to be actually very first inspired by old shots displayed at Nashville"s annual BMI Awards.

You are watching: Who wrote you should have seen it in color

The song"s co-writer, Lee cutting board Miller, lugged up the image in a conversation through Jamey Johnson. A lightbulb instantly went off for both songwriters, and also once they ultimately got in a room with each other (along with James Otto), a modern-day country standard was born.

Lee cutting board Miller said the "Story Behind the Song" come Bart Herbison of Nashville Songwriters combination International.


Bart Herbison: “The Story Behind the tune for the historicsweetsballroom.com this week (features) one of my favorite humans, Lee cutting board Miller. And also it important is a story song. ‘In Color.’ You created it with Jamey Johnson and James Otto. What is the story behind it?” 

Lee thomas Miller: “They’re a small younger 보다 me, so your grandfathers were in the korean War. Mine was in Germany in WWII. Yet that really wasn’t where the idea started. Jamey was having a many of success together a songwriter. He was having actually a number one party for, i think, ‘Ladies Love nation Boys.’ my office to be close come BMI at the time and also I just happened to finish (writing) early. I was going come walk over to Jamey’s number one party. Simply the ahead year, he had won ‘Song the the Year’ v ‘Give the Away.’ Whispering Bill (Anderson) was (a co-writer) on that song. Us all love Bill. He is just one of the critical people (still creating songs) from that generation. Ns walk over to Jamey Johnson who is standing exterior BMI, smoking a cigarette, as he often tends to do. Ns just walked up, and we started chatting.


I said, “Man, ns thought about you. Have you speak to invoice Anderson? A couple weeks back at the BMI Awards, mine wife and I were sitting there, and on the screens they will run pictures of previous BMI Awards. They might be from critical year and also then they’ll go back and you might see some from the "60s. You’ll have actually lots the black and white pictures. Girlfriend would have Kitty Wells (standing beside) two people in suits. Being the complete country music nerd that i am, ns told my wife that I would certainly love to understand who every the human being are in every those old pictures. "Who space the suits? ns wish we were sit close to invoice Anderson. He is the just one in this room who could tell united state who all of the human being in that picture are."" Jamey never ever says a word. The listens to the totality story and also he take away a huge drag turn off his cigarette and says, “There’s her idea, Hoss. Think it is something, you shoulda’ seen the in color.”

BH: Wow! 

LTM: ns said, "You might be as good as girlfriend think girlfriend are. Don’t create that with anybody else. And he said, "Call me tomorrow."


Of course, that took 3 months to actually obtain him pinned down to execute it, however he referred to as me on the means in that day and also said, “I think we acquired a great idea.” 

I think he had (cancelled a compose with) James Otto the day before. He acquired there (to the creating appointment) and he is looking at his phone. He said, “Do you recognize James Otto?” ns said, “Yeah!” the asked if ns cared even if it is James came in with us because he had cancelled the work before. Ns said, “I nothing care.” 

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 the goes earlier to the idea. I think the was additionally the record. It to be so unique. It most likely took three hrs to write. Ns remember the the bridge said, “That’s the story of my life, right there in black and also white.” We had that happening at the end of every verse and one that the last points we did to be take the out and also put it as the bridge. We functioned a lot of on the language.

We had a long conversation around how normal people were sent away come war. My grandfather was a tobacco farmer in Kentucky, and he was drafted. That went in as a Private and also came out together a Private. He literally went and also saved the world and went earlier to the tobacco farm. That was the beautiful thing about those that serve. Lock are just normal people. There was a many that conversation. Together you do (though), it ultimately needs to be about the girl.

...Things have happened since then that are special to me. Five or 6 years ago, fine after the tune (was released,) we visited the WWII Museum in new Orleans, i beg your pardon is probably the ideal collection that WWII memorabilia. The made that component of the track that much more real to me. I constantly say the it won awards and did all those things. That song readjusted my life and my career. Every now and then, civilization will tell me that their grandfather put the in his will to have actually that track played in ~ his funeral.


BH: This was simply laying here. (Holds up photo) This was my grandpa, Barton Pullen, who offered in maybe the toughest battle in American war History, he was in the Argonne Forrest in WWI. It was just laying there, a black and also white picture. Because that him and also for your grandpa, and for everybody that ever before served, I say thanks to you. This track summarizes the feeling.

See more: Mr Big Stuff Who Do You Think You Are Lyrics For Mr, Lyrics For Mr

About the series

In partnership with Nashville Songwriters association International, the "Story Behind the Song" video clip interview collection features Nashville-connected songwriters discussing one of your compositions. For full video clip interviews with every one of our subjects, visit www.historicsweetsballroom.com/music.