In a throwback video posted in August of 2016, singer Carrie Underwood performed an acoustic rendition of “Jesus Take the Wheel” along with the song’s three writers.
Brett James, Hillary Lindsey and Gordie Sampson wrote the song. Underwood recorded it and released it in October of 2005 as the first single from her debut album Some Hearts.
An Improbable Song Title
As James told Bart Herbison for the Tennessean, the original songwriting session was just three friends shooting the breeze at around 11 a.m. at Lindsey’s tiny little old house.
“So we just talked about life for about the first hour or so like all songwriters do,” he said.
Then they started brainstorming from their respective lists of song titles. Eventually, Samspon announced that he had one called “When Jesus Takes the Wheel.”
But when he first heard that title, James had his doubts.
“I was like, ‘OK, so we got Jesus on the road, driving a Toyota? What’s he got?’” James joked. “We laughed about it and just moved on. We went on to the next [song title] and then the next one, and the next one. And fortunately, we’re stuck, and we couldn’t come up with it.”
So the team circled back to that song title, and they began composing a song about a girl driving to Cincinnati. They finished it together, but when it was done, they weren’t exactly thrilled with the finished product.
Carrie Underwood Picks the Song Up
Later on, James had a demo session in which he could record five songs. “Jesus Take the Wheel” made the cut – barely. It was the fifth song he recorded that day.
Lindsey sang the song. James credits her with really selling it.
And a few months later, Underwood won “American Idol.” She had the opportunity to release a country song and a pop song, and for her country song, she picked “Jesus Take the Wheel.”
“Fortunately, she debuted it on the CMA Awards and it turned into something special for all of us,” James explained. “And it’s still, I think, still special to Carrie. We’ve been so blessed by her over the years.”
Watch Underwood’s performance here: