Our hearts were still breaking when Alan Jackson stepped onstage at the 2001 CMA Awards and sang an ode to a day we just wanted to forget.

But once the song was over, we all realized that, maybe, it was time to make it a day we will always want to remember.

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On Sept. 11, the cruelty of life was met with the incredible love of an entire nation. And just two months later, country music found a way to put that love into a song.

“I didn’t intend on writing a song about that day because I just didn’t feel like it was the right thing to do or not,” Alan says in a brand-new CMA interview about his groundbreaking song “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning.)” “That song just came out of nowhere. It was a Godsend. And even after that I was reluctant about recording it, and I didn’t know if people around me were going to do it and I felt like I should do it.”

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And “do it” is exactly what he did. But performing it live in front of a still mourning CMA Awards audience was something entirely different. “I was hesitant and reluctant if I should do the song or on an album or live,” he says. “It was a nervous performance of course the first time live in front of everybody on television. In retrospect, I realize that it was a good thing for the show and all the people that have told me how much the song affected them and how it still does today.”

Tricia Despres is the contributing editor for Rare Country, based out of Chicago, Illinois. Join the conversation on Twitter at @RareCountry. We would love to see y’all there.
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