The life of a song is a journey. Some songs take years to travel until they grace the right ears. Some hit instantly. Some simply exist, never straying too far from those who created them. But the truth is nobody really knows if, when, and where a song will find a home.
In October of 2022, Breitbart News became aware of a song called “Checking In” that was making waves on Tik Tok and Instagram. It was a simple performance recorded on an iPhone outside a camper somewhere in rural nowhere on the outskirts of Nashville: sung by one of its writers, Michael Farren. The song’s message was equally simple: in a fast-moving world, find the time to call your Dad. That message resonated with us and with you, the readers.
In a Breitbart profile, Farren, who penned “Checking In” with fellow Nashville songwriters Kenneth Hart and Garret Jacobs, told us “At some point along the way, you just swallow hard… There may be hurt, there may be pain, there may be years of history of bullshit or whatever. But at some point, you go, ‘Ya know what, I’m gonna be the best me I can be. I’m gonna pick up the phone and say hello and I love ya to the guy I call dad.’ He may be amazing. He may be awful. There’s something powerful that happens in just letting people know that they’re seen and that they’re heard. Letting a parent know they are seen and heard, man, it affects everything.”
And so the journey of a song began…and what a home it found.
WATCH THE VIDEO FOR CHECKING IN
Farren brought the song into Colt Murski, V.P., Country Publishing & Creative for Curb | Word Music Publishing in hopes of getting the song into the ears of Curb’s biggest country star, ACM/CMA award-winner Lee Brice. The only issue was, there wasn’t a proper demo of the song. But Murski knew the song was special and told Breitbart News he simply downloaded the raw acoustic Tik Tok version and texted it over to Brice. “Not much time had gone by when Lee texted back and said ‘Can I please hold that song? I mean that just slays me.’” So Brice went into the studio to cut the song. That would be a happy ending for any song but “Checking In” had more to do on its path to release.
Meanwhile, the viral sensation caught the attention of Joel and Luke Smallbone, two brothers who make up the massively successful and multi-Grammy award-winning Christian duo, For King + Country — a band that has procured eleven number one hits and a staggering 2.5 billion streams over the course of their career. The brothers happen to have been wrapping up production on a faith-based movie centering around the remarkable true story of their own family’s journey from Australia to the United States. Unsung Hero (Opens April 26) is a story about starting over in the face of great loss, and the faith that holds a family together en route to super stardom. It’s no wonder that The Kingdom Story Company, responsible for the mega hits Jesus Revolution and I Can Only Imagine, signed on as the production company. When the brothers heard “Checking In,” they knew thematically that the song made perfect sense for the soundtrack album for music inspired by Unsung Hero. But Lee Brice had already cut the song.
So now what?
That’s where the theme of family enters once again into the life of this song. For King + Country also happens to be an artist on Curb records and executives from the label put their heads together to bring two of their most successful artists from two different musical genres together onto one track.
Lee Brice and For King + Country had never met in person before shooting the video for Checking In.
It was reported that both Brice and the Smallbones got emotional while filming their performances….from a simple theme that started with a simple performance recorded on an iPhone outside a camper somewhere in rural nowhere on the outskirts of Nashville. “Checking In” found its home.
FOLLOW JON KAHN on INSTAGRAM @JONKAHNMUSIC