3: Almost Home

3: Almost Home

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Country Music

Almost Home

Story by Craig Morgan

Song written by Kerry Kurt Phillips and Craig Morgan

Recorded by Craig Morgan

I was talking to my wife on the phone one day and she was complaining about me being on the road so much. I told her, “Just relax. It won’t be long. I’m almost home.” I thought that might be a great song idea, so I wrote it down.

A little later, I sat down with Kerry Kurt Phillips and we started writing it. We beat it around for a month or so. We were taking it from the relationship angle. Then, I was driving into Nashville one day to try to write with Kerry some more, and there was a homeless guy standing on the Demonbreun Street Bridge near Music Row, holding up a sign. I told Kerry about it when I saw him. I said I felt sorry for the guy. He knew the guy, who was in pretty bad shape, and he said, “Yeah, that old boy’s almost home.” And we looked at each other and said, “That’s it.”

It took us three or four sessions to get it down. Kerry is a pretty particular writer. We wrote it three or four different ways, trying to figure out exactly what we wanted it to say. The lines about running through the cottonwood trees and the Calico Creek came from him. Calico Creek is an actual creek near where he grew up. I wrote the lines about walking down an old dirt road, past a field of hay that had just been mowed, being chased by the honeybees, drip-drying in the summer breeze. I was reminiscing about my boyhood growing up in Kingston Springs, near Nashville. I can still smell that hay every time I sing that song.

“Almost Home” was the 2003 Nashville Songwriters Association Song of the Year, and it is still one of the most requested songs. A gentleman told me at a show once that before his father-in-law passed away he had requested the song be played at his funeral.

Kerry and I never discussed what was meant by “almost home,” but, as I found out later, we might have looked at it differently. To me, I just thought he was going back home in his dream, but in Kerry’s mind, he was ready to pass on. But that’s what’s great about co-writing: two different writers bring two different perspectives to a song.

It got pitched around. George Strait had it on hold for a while. I hadn’t planned on cutting it myself. Then one day, I called my producer and said, “We just wrote a great country song.” And I read him the lyric over the phone. At the time, he had some land over in Hickman County, forty-two acres of which I wanted. He told me he would trade me those forty-two acres in exchange for publishing on that song. I said, “Well, if you think it’s that good, maybe I’ll just hold onto it.”

Trace Adkins and I almost got into a fight about it at the Opry one night. I was there in my dressing room and he came and stood in the doorway. He filled it plumb up, of course, since he’s about 6’6”. He said, “I want to know how the hell you got that song, ‘Almost Home.’ I should have cut that thing.”

I said, “Are you kidding me? How do you think I got it?”

He said, “Do I look like I’m kidding?”

I thought we were fixing to come to blows there for a moment. I said, “I wrote it.”

He said, “Well, I’ll be damned.” But we got over it. We’re good friends now.

Almost Home

He had plastic bags wrapped ’round his shoes

He was covered with the evening news

Had a pair of old wool socks on his hands

The bank sign was flashing “5 below”

It was freezing rain an’ spittin’ snow

He was curled up behind some garbage cans

I was afraid that he was dead

I gave him a gentle shake

When he opened up his eyes

I said, “Old man, are you ok?”

CHORUS:

He said, “I just climbed out of a cottonwood tree

I was runnin’ from some honey bees

Drip dryin’ in the summer breeze

After jumpin’ into Calico Creek

I was walkin’ down an old dirt road

Past a field of hay that had just been mowed

Man I wish you’d just left me alone

’Cause I was almost home...”

Then he said, “I was just comin’ round the barn”

’Bout the time you grabbed my arm

When I heard momma holler, “Son hurry up.”

I was close enough for my old nose

To smell fresh cobbler on the stove

And I saw daddy loadin’ up the truck

Cane poles on the tailgate

Bobbers blowin’ in the wind

Since July of ’55

That’s as close as I’ve been

CHORUS

BRIDGE:

I said, “Old man you’re gonna freeze to death”

Let me drive you to the mission

He said “Boy if you’d left me alone

Right now I’d be fishin’”

CHORUS

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