We have an update on a story we've been following for nearly a decade. It starts with Paul Monti. We met him after his son Jared Monti was killed in Afghanistan in 2006.
Paul started Operation Flags For Vets after Jared was buried at the National Cemetery on Cape Cod. Volunteers now come ahead of every Veterans and Memorial Day to place American flags on all the graves there.
When I interviewed Paul in 2011, he talked about how he still drove his son's old pickup truck. Nashville songwriter Connie Harrington heard that interview and co-wrote "I Drive Your Truck," which became a hit when it was recorded by Lee Brice.
Now, Connie has written a new song about another truck - her late brother's. She talks with Here & Now's Robin Young and shares the song, "That's What We Do," for the first time publicly.
Interview Highlights: Connie Harrington
On her brother’s accident while working as a lineman
"He was driving. They had just finished a job and he – most men that do that job are kind of wild-child, black sheep type, you know. They ride motorcycles. They do dangerous things already. And certainly with my brother Stanley, he’d ridden, raced motorcycles, done every sort of risk-taking adventure during his life and the irony was he was just driving a bucket truck down a highway, you know, snow and water saturated and the giant tires got off on the shoulder and I guess, from what they can tell, when he tried to correct, the top-heavy bucket truck just flipped."
On her brother's wish for her to write a song about him
"He called and just nonchalantly during a conversation asked me would I ever consider writing a song about linemen. And I said 'well, of course, you know, let's you and I get together and you tell me more details about it than I am privy to, and I'd be happy to.' And that was just a couple months before his accident and because he worked on storm like so many linemen do, they're away from home months and months at a time. And he was in Van Wert, Ohio, and we never got the chance to have that little sit down."
On learning shortly after his death that there would be a movie about linemen
"Crazy, absolutely. Like, right after the funeral, it's one of my best friends who worked for another publishing company here in Nashville, Juli Griffith from Magic Mustang, and we rarely ever go to lunch. We usually see each other at nights or on the weekends. And that day, I just thought I'm going to call Juli and let's go to lunch. So we did and as soon as she sat down, she took a little sip of tea and paused for a moment and said 'You're not even going to believe this, but my appointment this afternoon is with a movie producer and they want, you know, me and my company to handle the music for the soundtrack, and Connie, it's about linemen.' She had just come from my brother's funeral and she had never met a lineman in her life. Just very, very ironic. And I said 'well, Juli,' and I told her about Stanley wanting me to write a song and I had already sort of started one and I said 'I know I'm not part of your company, but if there's an opportunity for me to participate, please let me.' And there was a co-write happening with Sam Grow and his father is a lineman currently. So she put me in the room with him and two of their other writers, Westin Davis and Dave Pittenger, and we wrote 'That's What We Do.'"
On going through her brother’s truck and finding song lyrics
"The last birthday card that I had sent him was in the console of the truck. Sitting in the truck so many times, I picked it up and looked at it so many times and finally said I'm going to put that in the house. And I got it out of the truck and put it on my desk. And cleaning up one day, this is long after we had written 'That's What We Do,' I just happened to flip it over on the back where it says 'Hallmark,' and I see that he has written some lyrics, and I realized it was the start, he was trying to write part of the song and it was so very close to what we actually wrote and I had never seen it. It’s just unbelievable."
Connie Harrington sent Here & Now the lyrics from the card:
6 a.m. at 7-Eleven, coffee and smokes
Go build another power line
Beef jerky and a toke
Songs In This Segment
"I Drive Your Truck," written by Jimmy Yeary, Jessi Alexander and Connie Harrington, performed by Lee Brice
"That's What We Do," written by Sam Grow, Dave Pittenger, Westin Davis and Connie Harrington, performed by Sam Grow
- Connie Harrington, songwriter based in Nashville. She tweets @craeharrington.
This segment aired on October 7, 2015.
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