Letters: Inspiration Behind 'I Drive Your Truck'

Melissa Block and Audie Cornish read emails from listeners about the true story that inspired the hit country song, "I Drive Your Truck."

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Time now for your letters and one clarification. Facebook is trying to settle a class action lawsuit over a feature called sponsored stories in which user content is pulled into ads without the user's permission. Earlier this week, we reported that under the proposed deal, if parents didn't want their children to appear in ads, both the parents and the children would have to tell Facebook they are related. Then the parent would need to dig into his or her settings and ask Facebook to stop.

Well, Facebook contacted us after the story ran to say the company will also provide a way for parents who are not on Facebook to prevent their children's pictures from being used in ads. If the settlement is approved, parents will be able submit a form online and attach a notarized statement declaring their rights as a parent or guardian in order to disable the feature.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Yesterday, we told you about the story of a father and son, a truck and the number one country song they inspired.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I DRIVE YOUR TRUCK")

LEE BRICE: (Singing) I drive your truck. I roll every window down...

BLOCK: Two years ago, songwriter Connie Harrington heard a radio interview with Paul Monti. His son Jared was killed in Afghanistan, and he talked about how he drove Jared's truck to remember him.

CORNISH: Harrington was inspired by Monti's story and, with two co-writers, turned it into a song recorded by singer Lee Brice. Last month, "I Drive Your Truck" vaulted to number one on Billboard's Country Airplay chart. Earlier this week, Connie Harrington and Paul Monti met for the first time face to face and spoke with us from Nashville. Monti told us he's glad to have the song out there but that he has had trouble getting through it.

PAUL MONTI: I don't know if I've ever listened to it all the way through ever. I mean, I can get just so far, and I just have to shut it off.

BLOCK: Well, many of you felt the same way. Francis Breen of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, says he pulled into his driveway at the same time his wife did, and through the rearview mirror, noticed they were both listening to the same story.

He writes this: We sat motionless for several minutes until the segment came to a close, both of us exiting from our vehicles at the same moment, unable to bear listening to the song being played at the end of the piece. Breen says, without a word being spoken about the segment, he and his wife uttered to each other how lucky are we.

That's because, he writes, our son had served in the Army in both Iraq and Afghanistan and had come home to us. We had spent many a sleepless night worrying that he never would.

CORNISH: Nicholas Perna of Ridgefield, Connecticut, says he drove his son's truck until the young man came home from Iraq. Perna writes: I used to listen to my son's music and even wear his beat-up old baseball cap while driving his pickup. It all made me feel closer to him even though he was so far away.

BLOCK: And when Charles Jenkins of Chatham, New York, heard our story, he was driving his mother's car, a car, he says, that's traveled to weddings and funerals and birthdays. Mr. Jenkins says his mother is alive, but she's been debilitated by Parkinson's disease and he's reluctant to change anything about her car.

He writes this: The maps of the places she used to drive, the car wash tickets, the note in her handwriting like the change in the ashtray and the other details in the song about driving the truck bear witness to a life. As the father in your story said, we need ways to hold on to the people we love after they are gone. Whether we drive their trucks and cars, cook with their cast iron pans, display their sports trophies, or tell their stories to our families, we need to keep their memories alive. And Mr. Jenkins concludes: Thank you for a story about how, in life, we all must find our own ways to deal with the deaths of those we love.

CORNISH: Thanks to everyone who wrote in. And please, keep those letters coming. Just go to npr.org and click on Contact Us.

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