This is the third single from American country music singer Lee Brice's sophomore album, Hard 2 Love. Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary penned the ballad, and it was Harrington who originally came up with the song's concept after hearing an interview on National Public Radio (NPR) with Paul Monti, the father of Jared C. Monti, a sergeant in the US Army who was killed in Afghanistan on June 21, 2006 when his patrol was ambushed.
Paul Monti explained how after the death of his son, who was awarded the Medal of Honor, he would drive his truck to remind him of Jared. "It's got his DNA all over it," Monti said.
Harrington heard the interview on Memorial Day weekend, 2011 when she was driving. Touched by the story, she wrote down ideas for the song, which she later hashed out with fellow Nashville songwriters Alexander and Yeary. Lee Brice recorded the song in 2012 and it became a #1 Country hit and a YouTube sensation, quickly racking up millions of views.
Paul Monti didn't know that he inspired the song until long after it was released. In February 2013, a friend who lost a son in the same battle sent Monti the song, knowing that he drove Jared's truck and suspecting the song was about him. He finally got confirmation when Connie Harrington him in April to tell him the story and invite him to Nashville, where he met with Harrington, her co-writers and Brice. Monti spoke at a party celebrating the song reaching #1 on the Country chart, telling the crowd, "This song honors every single Gold Star family in the country. They all hold on to something, whether it's a truck, a car, dog tags, CDs, a baseball glove, a teddy bear - whatever it is, all of us hold on to something from our child."
Brice said that as soon he heard the song, he knew he had to cut it. "I went around town and listened to a lot of songs," he explained, "and one of the publishers said, 'I know you're looking for some lighter stuff, but I've got a song that we feel is the song of the year.' They played it, and I started losing it in front of everybody. It just killed me. It made me think about my granddaddy, and everybody I'd lost."
The song's music video is a family affair. "It became a personal song to me the very first time that I heard it, and I thought about my granddaddy, and what I would like to do with the video," Brice told Billboard magazine. "Since it was so personal to me, I asked my brother to be the actual actor, the 'star' of the video. He did an amazing job on it, and I have a feeling that people are just going to be really moved by it."
Brice recalled the recording of the cut to reporters at a media event. "I don't honestly know why I have my hands on that song, because it seems to me Garth Brooks could have got his hands on it," he said. "Anybody in the world would have recorded that song. I somehow got my hands on it first. The first time I heard it, it really broke me down, and I had to listen to it over and over again. When I went into the studio, I remembered how (the demo) made me feel, so when I was singing it, I wanted to make sure I didn't screw that up ... that I made that feeling come across with my recording of it the same as the demo. The songwriters, when they recorded that song, they did it right. I wanted to make sure I honored them and was putting forth the kind of emotions they wanted to come across."
The song topped the Billboard Country singles chart. "I was immediately drawn to this song, so I'm not surprised that fans have connected to it like they have," responded Brice to the news that it had reached #1. "Since we put it out as a single, fans from across the country have shared their own truck stories through just about any way they can - calling into the radio, on tour at meet-and-greet, Twitter, Facebook, emails and texts. I'm just glad I got to be a part of this special song."
The truck in this song that belonged to Jared Monti is a black Dodge Ram pickup.
At an event held at the Country Music Association building in Nashville to honor the song's writers, Yeary recalled that, "Connie absolutely cried like a baby at every point in writing this song." When she didn't cry, he continued, they knew the lyrics weren't up to scratch.
Brice recalled at the same event that he had approached publisher Rusty Gaston in search of some lighter tunes to complete his album. After hearing them, he said he was ready to go home when Gaston asked if he could play him one other song, which of course was this one.
This won Song of the Year at the 2013 Country Music Association Awards. It was Jessi Alexander's first CMA success as a writer, though her husband, Jon Randall, was awarded the same honor in 2005 with Bill Anderson for "Whiskey Lullaby
." She told reporters backstage that now, "we can have his and her CMA Awards at the house."
When Curb first released this song to radio, Jessi Alexander started getting negative feedback from other songwriters. "I got a lot of crap for it in the beginning, when people saw the title, 'I Drive Your Truck,'" she recalled to Billboard magazine. "I had friends like, 'Oh, come on, Jessi. Are you writing truck songs now, too?' Then, of course, when people hear the song, they know it's so much more than that. But I think we all, as writers, are feeling a little boxed in by the topics."
This won Song of the Year at the 2014 ACM Awards. Acknowledging that many Americans could relate to the story of losing a loved one in military action, Connie Harrington said on the podium, "To every person in America who knows what it's like to live the words of this song, God bless you."