Story Behind the Song: Carrie Underwood, ‘Jesus, Take the Wheel’
In the mid-2000s, Carrie Underwood scored a crossover smash hit with "Jesus, Take the Wheel," co-written by Brett James, Hillary Lindsey and Gordie Sampson. The song, Underwood's first single from her debut album, Some Hearts, spent six consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and earned a Top 10 spot on the Christian Songs chart (No. 4), a Top 20 spot on the Hot 100 (No. 20) and Top 30 spot on the Adult Contemporary chart (No. 23).
"Jesus, Take the Wheel" has been certified multi-platinum and was nominated for numerous awards. It won Single of the Year at the ACM Awards and two Grammys, for Best Female Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song. Below, James tells The Boot about how the hit came to be.
That day started out to be a typical "day at the office": We wrote it at Hillary's house. We were trying to think of ideas, and Gordie walked in and said, "I have this title, and I don't know what to do with it: "When Jesus Takes the Wheel.""
Hillary and I both laughed. I thought it was kind of silly, to be honest with you; I thought, "What in the world does that mean?"
We kind of talked about it a while, then went around with five or six other song titles to write something else. We couldn't think of anything else and went back to Gordie's idea. Sure enough, we started writing it about the girl driving on Christmas Eve with a baby in the backseat of her car. It evolved into "Jesus, Take the Wheel" soon after that.
My wife had a similar experience to the girl in the song: My wife had a car crash when we were dating. She nearly died. Her car spun around several times and went under an 18-wheeler. She said she saw angels come help her. She walked away with no injuries. I thought it was interesting that she had that same situation happen to her like the girl in the song.
It became such a neat song because it touches people. Those songs are really special.
We really had no idea who was going to record the song. When Carrie recorded it, it was one of those magical things when you get the right artist and the right song. This happened to be one of those songs.
That will always be one of the most special songs to me.
This story was originally written by Alanna Conaway, and revised by Angela Stefano.
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