Behind George Strait’s ‘I Believe': A Song About Sandy Hook [Listen]
There are plenty of country songs that will tug at your heartstrings, but few hit home the way George Strait's "I Believe" lyrics do. Strait co-wrote the song with his son Bubba and songwriter Dean Dillon during the aftermath of the tragic shooting in Newtown, Conn.
On December 14, 2012, shooter Adam Lanza walked into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and fatally shot 20 children and six adult staff members before taking his own life. Just a few days before Christmas, the entire nation was glued to the news, wondering how such a horrific mass murder could happen to our neighbors.
Strait was among those asking why, so he turned to songwriting to help him sort out his grief and anger.
"Like everybody, I was watching it on TV," the icon says in a video interview. "I'm just shaking my head. It was so sad, and ... you know, I was thinking, 'I know what these parents are going through.' It's just the worst thing that can happen to you in your life, to lose a child. There's just nothing worse than that."
With those thoughts on his mind, Strait started jotting down what soon became the "I Believe" lyrics, and then he called his son to share. "We started talking about it and writing a few things down," he continues. "I said, 'Let's just try to write it. I'm gonna send Dean [Dillon] what we have, because this song has to have a melody that's killer, and Dean's that guy.'"
Although Strait had been eager to put the "I Believe" lyrics to music, he started having second thoughts. "The whole time I'm concerned — because I don't know these people, and I'm concerned about offending them," he admits. "I don't want to cause them any more misery than what they've been through."
After putting the finishing touches on the song, Strait headed into the studio to cut new tracks for his 2013 record, Love Is Everything. At first, he didn't add "I Believe" to the list, but his wife convinced him that he needed to do it. Even though his session players were already putting away their instruments, they agreed to pull everything back out and take the time to make the dedication to those lost children sound perfect.
The end product of the song sounds a lot like a statement of faith from Strait, with lyrics like, "But I believe there's someone looking after me / Someone beside me, night and day to light the way / It's hard to conceive something you can't see / But I believe / I believe."
While the chorus sounds like a general sentiment about religion, the verses to 'I Believe' point directly to the Sandy Hook School shooting. "There's 26 angels looking down from above / Resting in His mercy, grace, and love / Time may never heal the sadness that we feel," Strait sings in the second verse, referencing the victims of the attack.
"I just love the way it turned out," Strait says. "Again, I hope they take it that way. Because in the end, it's just a statement of faith — that's really what it is."
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