Rodney Atkins Shares Full-Circle Moment With 22-Year-Old Son, Elijah, Who Inspired His Hit Song, ‘Watching You’

Will the talented father-son pair be releasing a new version of the hit song?


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

June 24, 2024


4:34 pm

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Rodney Atkins with his Son Elijah; Photos Courtesy YouTube, TikTok

In a new TikTok video, Rodney Atkins shares a full circle moment with his grown-up son, Elijah, who fans first met nearly two decades ago when he starred in his father’s music video for “Watching You.” 

In 2006, the iconic country singer released a wholesome track titled “Watching You,” which appeared on his If You’re Going Through Hell album and went on to become a No. 1 single. The beloved tune was penned by Atkins with Steve Dean and Brian Gene White and was inspired by a real-life moment in parenthood that Atkins experienced.

Photo Courtesy Rodney Atkins
Photo Courtesy Rodney Atkins

“I’ll never forget I went to pick him up from pre K and the teacher, Miss Sarah, said, ‘I gotta talk to you about your boy,’” he shared while remembering the “true” story behind the song. “I said, ‘well, what’s he done?’ She said, ‘we got this routine we do every day where I turn the lights on and off’ and that’s her signal to get in line, get quiet and once that happens, they go to lunch. ‘Today, I gave them the signal, we started to walk and I heard a little voice singing a song. Something like, ‘If you’re going through hell, keep on going…’”

It was at that very moment that Atkins realized just how much his son was paying attention to everything he said and did at the time.

Atkins later released a music video to coincide with the song’s heartwarming nature. His son appears in the opening clip, singing the words to a song which he admits he learned from hearing his dad sing. The father-son duo then climbs into Atkins truck and they continue to act out the song’s lighthearted narrative, showcasing both the good and the bad things that the little one has picked up from watching his dad, including saying a four-letter word, praying to God, playing the guitar, etc. 

YouTube video

Elijah was very young at the time the video was released, so when a fan recently asked Atkins to duet his song with his much older son, the Tennessee-born singer couldn’t resist. In the first clip, viewers see Atkins sitting in his car, singing along to the lyrics with the words Y’all wanted to know what happened to the kid from the Watching You video…” written above him. He then shows a brief snapshot of his son from back in the day before revealing Elijah currently as a fully-grown 22-year-old. 

What fans didn’t expect was to hear an alternate version of the song takeover, one that features Elijah’s vocals singing the chorus. The comment section has since become flooded with users suggesting that the pair drop a new version featuring the 22-year-old, to which Atkins replied, “Will work on that!”

@rodneyatkinsmusic Replying to @lorinamankus32 @Eli A. The best late Father's day gift. #duet #countrymusic #fyp #rodneyatkins #watchingyou #90scountry #cowboyhats ♬ Watching You (Acoustic) – Rodney Atkins

Thanks to the recent video, which has already surpassed 10 million views, Atkins’ fanbase got to see that Elijah appears to still be following in his father’s musical footsteps and learning from him each day. 

This recent online attraction has allowed his day-one fans to get reacquainted with the track while a whole new generation of listeners are also being introduced to the song. 

While Rodney Atkins is gearing up to release some new music this summer, it’s unclear whether or not a duet version if “Watching You” will actually come to fruition. 

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.