"The Ones That Didn't Make it Back Home" has always been a special sentiment for Justin Moore, even before it became the title of his latest single. In fact, long before he wrote the song, "For the ones that didn't make it back home" was a kind of mantra for Moore during his live shows: He would say it from the stage, as a kind of toast to the crowd.

One night, in the midst of a performance, it dawned on him to write a song around the message. "Maybe the 300th time I said it onstage!" Moore says with a laugh in a recent interview with The Boot. Luckily, he'd brought some songwriters out on the road, so after finishing his set, he returned to his tour bus and got to work. With help from co-writers Paul DiGiovanni, Jeremy Stover and Chase McGill, "The Ones That Didn't Make It Back Home" was born.

Now, Moore is gearing up to perform the song twice surrounding Memorial Day: once on Sunday (May 26) as part of a PBS Memorial Day special, and again on Monday (May 27) at the National Armed Forces Memorial Day Parade. He says that context will make his song even more meaningful.

The subject matter is personal to the singer, too: He grew up with two grandfathers who served in the military, one of whom is still alive and has listened to the new song. "He loved it," Moore recalls, couching that praise by saying that his family is unconditionally proud of the music he makes, no matter what.

"The only ones that are honest with me are my wife and kids," he jokingly adds. His wife, Kate, and their four young children loved the song, too; in fact, it got him some "cool dad" points with his oldest daughter, 9-year-old Ella Kole, when her friend recognized the track from the radio.

Beyond paying tribute to fallen soldiers, Moore wanted to cut the song in order to showcase a more serious side of musical identity as he heads toward the release of his forthcoming album, Late Nights and Longnecks. "The last couple of lead singles were beer-drinking songs," he explains. "I wanted to show a deeper side [with the new single]."

The singer says that offering fans a deeper look into who he is as an artist is a good transition into the new project, which is due for release on July 26. Since sharing "The Ones That Didn't Make It Back Home," Moore has continued to release more reflective music: "Jesus and Jack Daniels," another track off the new album, explores the lessons he learned from each of his parents, and the importance of achieving a balance in life.

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