When I'm Gone

Album: A Whole Lot More to Me (2015)

Songfacts®:

  • This up-tempo, free-spirited track was written by Justin Ebach and Steven Dale Jones. With its no regrets attitude, the song sums up Morgan's personal motto. "'When I'm Gone' is one of those songs where, the first time I heard it, I knew I had to record it because it's so exactly me," he shared. "It's no secret I've got an adventurous side. I've been a rodeo clown, I've raced sled dogs in the Arctic, and I've broken more bones than I can count. But more than anything else, I want to be remembered as the guy who lived his life to the fullest with and for my family and friends. That's what I want my legacy to be."
  • Justin Ebach, a songwriter for Word Music Publishing, started the song one night in 2013, just a few weeks after the birth of his first child. "I was probably just dealing with baby stuff," recalled Ebach to Billboard magazine. "I couldn't sleep, so I just went downstairs, poured a drink and just started playing guitar, noodling. I started playing this chord progression that kind of starts the song out, and I just sang, 'My last breath I want to take with a smile.' That's literally how the whole song started."

    Ebach mapped out the majority of the opening verse and started work on the chorus in the small hours before recording what he had on his iPhone. Six months later he decided to try out his demo on Steven Dale Jones, during one of their regular Friday writing sessions. Ebach told him he needed help on the chorus, which needed a line between "retired" and the closing "When I'm gone." "The line before the title is almost the most important line in the song," said Ebach. "It sets up the title."

    Jones came up with the answer, "My life goes on." "I've been doing this 30 years," said Jones. "I have friends who are dead, lots of them, who are writers, and I'll still hear their songs and say, 'Oh, wow, it's like they're still here.'"

    With the chorus completed, the pair crafted the rest of the song in about 45 minutes, around the concept of a well-lived life that continues to make a positive impact even after its demise.

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