Top 30 Soldier Songs: #5 – “Letters From Home” by John Michael Montgomery
In 2004 John Michael Montgomery released his first top ten single sense 2000, a single that would be to date his final run in the top 40 and his final hit for Warner Bros. Records. This single, considered one of the most significant of it’s year of release and of John’s career, hit #2 on the Billboard charts and became the title track to John’s top 5 album, “Letters From Home”.
Where several songs in country music have focused on the soldier and their connecting to home, John’s powerful ballad became one of the genre’s most inspirational soldier songs ever by focusing more on the soldier receiving updates from home through letters from home. The main character in the song, played by actor Fred Mullins, becomes the center of attention as he receives letters from three different family members while on duty. What helped this song touch the hearts of thousands of listeners was it’s intention to express the feelings of the soldier after he receives letters from his loved ones, a concept usually approached the other way around. In a well presented story, this was one of the few times listeners were able to experience the true emotion behind being a soldier rather than just a sense of pride and courage.
As mentioned, this song revolves around a soldier who receives three letters from home from three of the most important people in his life, his mother, his fiancee, and his dad. His mother’s letter is rather simple and of course a little corny. She tells her son about the weather and how things are going back home as well as applying her motherly touch which causes her son to get some chuckles from his buddies sitting around him. The second letter is from his fiancee who addresses her fear that her future husband will not come home. She explains how she heard things on TV that made her worry and how her and his mom have become closer. The most important thing is that she asserts her love for him in the letter. The song gets to its peak when the third letter comes along, written by the soldiers dad who is seemingly stubborn and dry. Instead his letter reveals him just to be very concerned with his son and the risk that he is taking. He writes the letter in order to say one thing before it’s too late, “son you make me proud”. This causes the soldier to cry, something rarely associated with soldiers who come off with a tough exterior.
These letters from home that JMM addresses through his song serve as some of the most inspiring gifts the armed forces officers could get today. The chorus even says “it keeps me driving on”. These letters show the soldiers support, love, and devotion and remind them what they are fighting for. They also bring out the real emotional part of these people who are generally viewed as some of the toughest in the world. Through John’s character we see a whole different side to the American soldier than we are used to seeing, a man who is not in battle, not dead, and is not worried. Instead he is enjoying himself and, as he receives his letters, reconnects mentally and emotionally with the people who matter most who send these letters to remind him that as much as he is sacrificing to keep them safe, they are still behind him and thinking about him every day.