Alan Jackson's tear-jerking tribute to 9/11 victims is so touching

Jaimie-lee Prince
Sep 12, 2018
08:16 A.M.
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People the world over will forever recall where they were when 9/11 took place. The feeling of loss can never fully be alleviated, but the heart-wrenching performance of Alan Jackson comforted many.


On September 11, 2001, many lives were lost and their loved ones remained forever scarred. Soon after, Jackson performed a live broadcast that resonated with their hearts.

He wrote the song just weeks after the devastating attack. It followed a moment of inspiration one night. He recorded a portion on a tape recorder and then completed the song in the morning.

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When explaining the process that went into the lyric composition, Jackson said:

“I just pretty much visualized a lot of those scenes and stories I’d heard and seen on television or heard people talk about,” he said. “The song came out of nowhere in the middle of the night — the chorus did. Just a gift. And I got up and scribbled it down and put the melody down so I wouldn’t forget it. And then the next day, I started piecing all those verses together that were the thoughts I’d had or visuals I’d had, and … that was about it.”

Jackson sang "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" at the CMA Awards back in 2001. He sang it again during the 10th anniversary at the Washington National Cathedral.


About the significance of the song, Jackson said in 2011:

“At the time, it was very meaningful to people, and I felt really good about contributing something.” He continued, “And then I thought it would just fade away, and then we’d ease it out of the show, but now I see people out there that I feel like are waiting for that song, you know?”


One can find the video of Jackson performing the touching song below. Jackson explained that the song remains a more popular song when doing tours.

“I think it’s more than just the 9/11 connection,” he said. “I mean, the real hook in it is quotes right out of the Bible anyway. And still, at night, it’s one of my biggest songs in the show. It’s hard to follow it, but I see so many that are holding up them lighters and are glad to hear it, and I think are moved by it, and glad I did it."


The song appealed strongly to those of faith due to its message. The whole situation moved many to return to services and led to drastic changes in their lives.

“And I heard so many stories back during that time when it was happening. People said, ’Oh, they quit their jobs, and they changed their lifestyles and started going to church and found somebody to marry!’ It was just like all these things that affected. … Those were big changes!”


The song reached No. 1 on the country music chart where it stayed for 5 weeks. It won Jackson 5 CMA Awards the next year.

Jackson told Classic Country Music that writing the song was not easy. Neither was releasing it because he didn't want to capitalize on a tragedy.

But it was Keith Stegall who convinced him to put it out there. Jackson received the ACM Award Song of the Year in 2002.

He moved the audience to tears when he gave his acceptance speech.

Jackson's own voice was unsteady as it was difficult to get through what he had to say. Viewers were also choked up as Jackson said the emotional words that reflected the feelings of many.

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