Song Snapshots is a column featuring the stories behind new and classic Southern Gospel songs.
One day, Gina Boe’s daughter asked her about a scar on her hand or her arm. When Gina told her daughter the story, she commented, “Oh, every scar has a story to tell.” It occurred to her that the line would make a good song, so she wrote it down.
One day, Boe, Jerry Salley, and Lee Black were writing at Brentwood-Benson. She mentioned the line, and they all started talking about it. They started off with the intent of shaping the thought into a country song. But, as Lee Black recalls, “The more we got into it, we thought, this just cries to go to a second verse about Jesus.”
Black recalls that it took them several writing sessions to finish the song. “We really put a whole lot of thought into every one of those lines, both verses and the choruses, and I think it took us two or three sessions to finally settle on everything. We tried to take our time and make sure that we really, really get this right.”
The song references a number of stories of how the narrator picked up different scars. Many of these, Black recalls, were drawn from real life. One day, Black’s brother and cousin were fishing; his cousin got a lure stuck in his head. This inspired the lyric “I got this one one summer / on the bank of Salt Creek / brother thought he’d caught a big one / but it was just me.”
Halfway through the second verse, the lyric pivots to talking about Jesus’ scars. Black, Salley, and Boe were particularly cautious not to fall into the realm of hackneyed clichés. “We’ve all heard scar songs before. I think that if you hear this song in a church setting, you know that the second verse is going to be about Jesus. But we were trying to write in a way that, even if you hear it in a church setting, by the time it gets to that line, it’s still going to catch you off guard. Even though you know it’s going to that place, we tried to write it in a way that it’s still going to get you in the heart.”
Even though the song has only been out for slightly over a year, it has already been recorded three times. Darin & Brooke Aldridge introduced the song on their August 2011 release So Much In Between. The couple, known as the “Sweethearts of Bluegrass,” had an inside track to land the song; the album was produced by co-writer Jerry Salley. Their rendition charted on the Singing News Bluegrass Gospel charts, and also charted for several months on their Top 80 Southern Gospel charts.
Just a few months later, the Talleys picked up the song; they offered a straight-ahead Southern Gospel version, featuring baritone singer Roger Talley, on their May 2012 release Love Won.
This fall, Dailey & Vincent bass singer Christian Davis recorded a Christian Country album, and offered a country rendition of the song.
Black is delighted to see the success the song has found on stages beyond church platforms: “I still think it’s the kind of song that could resonate with the crowds who might not hear it on church on Sunday, and still be a great message to them.”