The History Of Rascal Flatts’ Iconic Hit, ‘Bless The Broken Road’
“Bless The Broken Road” was on hold by over 150 artists before Rascal Flatts recorded it.
Rascal Flatts; Photo by Andrew Wendowski
On this day in 2004, Rascal Flatts released their version of “Bless the Broken Road,” a song that would go on to become one of the trio’s most successful hits of their 20-year career. While most fans can instantly recognize the iconic piano melody, many may not be aware of the fact that Rascal Flatts was not the first to record the tune.
Who Wrote The Song?
Bobby Boyd (of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), Jeff Hanna and Marcus Hummon are responsible for penning the song back in 1994. As a result, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was the first to release “Bless The Broken Road” for their acoustic album. According to The Boot, Hummon also dropped his own version of the song on his 1995 album, All in Good Time, for Columbia Records.
As it turns out, the inspirational tune was a popular one not just among fans, but also a slew of artists who had this song on hold to record for themselves. According to the outlet, Hanna revealed that the song had 150 holds before Rascal Flatts officially decided to claim it for their 2004 sophomore album, Feels Like Today.
“In 2004, Brooks & Dunn had it on hold, and they were about to cut it, and I found out Rascal Flatts finally cut it. Then we got a call that said, ‘Not only did we cut your song, but it’s the next single,’” Hanna recalled.
The Tennessean later reported a conversation between Bart Herbison of Nashville Songwriters Association International and the three songwriters, during which Boyd revealed the names of several other iconic artists who had their eyes on the song.
“Personally, Reba McEntire told me she was going to cut it. I know, at one point, Faith Hill wanted it and at the same time Colin Raye did, so neither one of them did it,” he shared.
Despite the many versions that came of this iconic track, Rascal Flatts’ recording earned the highest spot on the chart as spent five weeks at No. 1 on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks Chart. Additionally, it went on to be certified platinum and landed the group a GRAMMY for Best Country Song.
What Was The Inspiration Behind “Bless The Broken Road”?
As the conversation continued, the songwriters opened up about the writing process behind the narrative, which illustrates how a series of seemingly endless heartbreak could lead to a forever love, with a bit of help and guidance from a higher force.
“I had the storyline in my spirit and I was trying to figure it out. I told it to Marcus one night over drinks, just how divorce and all these things bring you somewhere and then God uses that to take you where you’re supposed to go. And then a couple months later, Marcus came back and played me something,” Boyd explained.
Hummon added, “He was talking about things that had been tough, but how he was really in love. He knew he was in love, and that everything that had happened was really blessed, in a different way of looking at it.”
They went on to share that they took the idea to the piano where they created the now well-known melody, and soon after the lyrics began to flow.
“You had ‘God bless the broken road that led me straight to you,’ Hanna said towards Hummon “I was like, ‘Man, right there. I get that. That resonates with me.’ And like he said, we got to work. We started it and I think about a week later, I came back and we put the finishing touches on it.”
Rascal Flatts made “Bless The Broken Road” their own when it was just 10 years old. It resonated so well with their fanbase that as of September 18, 2010, it had earned 2 million paid downloads. That signified the band’s third song to reach that achievement, behind “Life Is A Highway” and “What Hurts The Most.”
“It really was just a beautiful recording (by) the producers and all three of those guys. It was just striking. I remember,” Hummon added.
It’s important to recognize where the song came from, but it will always remain one of the momentous parts of the Rascal Flatts’ musical legacy. Even though the song is no longer being performed live by the entire band as a result of their split in 2020, lead singer Gary LeVox continues to deliver the tune to fans as a solo artist during his various headlining sets.
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.