The Story Behind Alan Jackson’s ‘Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning’

Alan Jackson at the Verizon Music Theatre, Grand Prairie, Texas - March 2016.  Photos by Terry Middleditch, Rodeo Country Radio


Of all the country songs written in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, none stands out more than Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning.” It’s a simple yet powerful song that expresses what Americans felt that day.

Jackson had no idea the song would have such an impact and said the idea came to him in the middle of the night. He shared the story of the song’s inception with Yahoo News

“I woke up one morning around 4 a.m. a few weeks afterward, and had that chorus going through my head. The song came out of nowhere in the middle of the night — just a gift. And I got up and scribbled it down and put the melody down so I wouldn’t forget it, and then the next day I started piecing all those verses together that were the thoughts I’d had or visuals I’d had. It was a Sunday — I remember because, when I started writing it, my wife and girls had gone off to Sunday school, and I finished it that day. Like I said, that song was just a gift. I’ve never felt I could take credit for writing it. Looking back, I guess I just didn’t want to forget how I felt on that day and how I knew other people felt.”

Jackson performed “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning” during the ACM Awards in Dallas, Texas back in 2015. Watch that performance in the video below.