Moving Oleta

Album: Room to Breathe (2003)
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  • Barry Dean wrote this song about his Alzheimer's-stricken grandmother having to move to a nursing home. "My grandfather was caring for her," he recalled to Billboard magazine. "I realized that he saw her as she was when he met her. He didn't see her in the condition she was. I was really moved by that and wrote about two-thirds of that song by myself in Kansas."
  • Dean was about to sign his first writers' deal when the song was cut by Reba McEntire for her Room to Breathe album. "Universal's David Conrad came over to listen to tempo, and he heard it, and took it and played it for Reba," he recalled.

    Dean added that he was touched by Buddy Cannon's willingness to let his family in on the moment. "Buddy Cannon - who produced it with Norro Wilson, let me hear it and even let me bring my family down from Kansas so I could play it for them," he said. "It was such an imposition on his part to do that for me, but I will never forget that."
  • Barry Dean has since become one of Nashville's go-to songwriters co-penning hit tunes for the likes of Jason Aldean ("1994") and Little Big Town ("Pontoon.")
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