Ahead of Their Greatest Hits Album, Rascal Flatts Share the Life-Changing Memories Behind the Songs
2020 marks a big year for Rascal Flatts. It’s the trio’s 20th anniversary of making music together, and also the…
Rascal Flatts; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images
2020 marks a big year for Rascal Flatts. It’s the trio’s 20th anniversary of making music together, and also the last year they plan on doing so: They’ve said that they plan to call it quits after one final, blow-out celebration.
Part of that celebration involves their new greatest hits package, called Twenty Years of Rascal Flatts The Greatest Hits. Spanning from their early days and their time on Lyric Street Records to their years as Big Machine artists, the project includes 13 of Rascal Flatts’ No. 1 hits and seven other fan-favorite songs.
Over the past two decades, these songs have been the soundtrack to fans’ lives, and helped create countless memories in the lives of their listeners. In that sense, bandmate Joe Don Rooney pointed out in a recent virtual press conference, the artists and their fans aren’t too different.
“In some ways, it might sound strange, but we’re kind of fans of our music as well a little bit,” he says with a laugh. “Because we’ve grown with some of our songs the way the fans have.”
None more so than “My Wish,” a 2006 power ballad whose lyrics describe the kind of life you hope for for someone you love. When Rascal Flatts put it out, singer Gary LeVox was the only one of the three of them who had children. Now that Rooney and bassist Jay DeMarcus are both dads themselves, they say the meaning of the song has completely transformed.
“‘My Wish’ is one of those [songs] that, I remember singing it on stage, performing it, before having children,” Rooney recalls. “And now it takes on such a whole new meaning, being a father now, and a husband.”
“You know, I always viewed that as my mother’s song to me, who had sacrificed so much for me growing up: Putting me through private schools, working three jobs. And I always envisioned her singing that to me whenever we would do that song,” DeMarcus points out. “Now, of course, years later, with an almost ten-year-old and an eight-year-old, it takes on a whole different meaning for me. Now it’s a song to my kids.”
Over the course of their 20-year career, the Rascal Flatts bandmates have lived a lot of life, and each song is a reminder of where they were — both as artists and as people — when they released it. When asked which of the songs on their greatest hits project is the most impactful, the three artists give three different answers.
For Rooney, it’s “Life is a Highway”: The 2006 country remake of a rock song from the early ‘90s that heralded the beginning of the trio’s work with producer Dann Huff, and even got the band on the Cars movie soundtrack.
“We started working with Dann Huff and the very first song we recorded was ‘Life is a Highway,’” Rooney recalls. “And that song, to me, it screams what Rascal Flatts is all about. All those years touring and being with fans.”
Meanwhile, DeMarcus says that the song at the forefront of his memory is one that helped the group forge an especially poignant connection with their fans. “You know what song has meant a lot to a lot of people — Also [one] we’ve seen tattoos and seen lyrics [of] held up at so many shows, that’s the song ‘Stand,’” he offers.
“It was a big, big tempo for us off the Me and My Gang record, and we’ve heard so many amazing stories about how it’s helped so many people get over so many obstacles in their own lives,” he adds. “So to have that on this record, and to reflect on what that song has meant to so many people, is really special for me.”
LeVox chimes in, saying that ultimately, the most impactful song to him is the one that made him realize that Rascal Flatts’ songs were bigger than the artists themselves. For the singer, that’s “I’m Movin’ On,” the group’s Top 5 hit from 2001.
“I mean, that’s what took us to our first gold record. And you know, our first gold record party happened on 9/11. So we had to cancel,” LeVox recalls. “And so that just brings up a flood of emotions every time.
“Looking back on that song and just remembering where we were when we cut it, it became this — I mean, pastors were using it in church. Alcoholics Anonymous. They were using it in AA and the 12 Step programs,” he goes on to say. “This song just became bigger than us, and so that’s the one I look back on and just go, ‘Wow.’”
Certain songs make the Rascal Flatts bandmates realize that their songs have become a part of history, and a part of the way country music fans remember big, pivotal moments in their lives. As an artist, that’s all you can hope for, LeVox reflects.
“That’s the power of music, and we’re just fortunate to be the ones that have cut it,” he adds.
Twenty Years of Rascal Flatts The Greatest Hits is set for release on Oct. 2.