Alan Jackson Reflects on Power of ‘Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)’ After 9/11

by Keeli Parkey
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The terrorist attacks on the United States of America on Sept. 11, 2001, inspired the people of this nation to come together. The shocking event also inspired artists to create in memory of the tragedy. One of those artists was country music star Alan Jackson.

Of course, the song he created is the beloved track, “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning).” Now, 20 years later, the 62-year-old icon is reflecting on why his 9/11 tribute became a song that brought people together.

Alan Jackson shared his feelings during an interview he shared on Saturday on his Twitter account. “May we #NeverForget those lives lost on September 11, 2001,” he also tweeted.

With “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” Jackson said he felt that was his way of giving to his country and its people. “At the time, it was very meaningful to people,” he explained. “And I felt really good about contributing something.”

Alan Jackson also said that he did not foresee the 9/11 tribute song having the staying power it has had. “Then, I thought it would just fade away and we’ll ease it out of the show,” he shared. “But now, I see people out there that I feel like are waiting for that song, you know?”

While the song was written in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, Jackson said there is something more to its success. “I think it’s more than just the 9/11 connection. I mean, the real hook in it quotes right out of the Bible, anyway,” he said.

Here are the lyrics from the song he is referencing: “But I know Jesus and I talk to God / And I remember this from when I was young / Faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us / And the greatest is love.” The song also asks listeners: “Did you dust off that Bible at home?”

Alan Jackson also said the song still leads to a strong reaction from those who attend his concerts. “… it’s one of my biggest songs in the show. It’s hard to follow it. And I see so many that they’re holding up lighters and glad to hear it and I think are moved by it and glad I did it,” he said.

Alan Jackson also reflected on how the events of “that September day” led people to change their lives.

“I’ve heard so many stories back during that time it was happening. You know, people saying they quit their jobs and they changed their lifestyles and started going to church and, you know, found someone to marry … all these things, some big changes,” he recalled.

Jackson commented on such motivation in the song. “Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer /
And look at yourself and what really matters?” It’s a question we can still ask ourselves 20 years later.

You can watch Alan Jackson perform “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” below.