I was doing a lot of playing on the road when I first came to Nashville and when I was home for a little break around 1998 I met a guy named Brett Jones. We got together one day over on Music Row to write and he pulled out his guitar. I kept admiring it and I just couldn’t stop talking about it. He said, “Yeah, it’s a J-200 Gibson 1963 model and I’ve had it forever,” and he talked about what a great sound it had and gave me a big story about it. Then he let me play it, and he started playing my Martin. Then he said, “If you record this song that we write today, it’s gonna be a hit.”
And I told him, “Look, you’ve gotta dream bigger than that. It’s not just gonna be a hit; it’s gonna be a #1.
Then Brett laughed and said, “I tell you what, Griggs. If this song goes to #1, I will give you this guitar.” So I said, “Yeah, okay,” and we started to write and I didn’t think anymore about it.
He asked me, “What do you do about a woman who is home when you’re out on the road? How do you keep her happy?” Then we started talking about his wife and how hard it is being away from loved ones. I said, “Well, you can’t really tell a woman that you’ll always be there – physically there. That’s just a lie. A woman can’t offer a guy that, and a guy can’t offer a woman that either.”
We kept talking and writing and I said, “You know, sometimes things happen at home when you’re away and you can always call her and say, “Honey, I wish I was there, but I’m not. But I won’t ever leave you lonely. Even if I am away, if you’re down, I’ll be there in spirit or emotionally. I’ll be in touch one way or another, whether through a cell phone call or a prayer, or an e-mail or whatever. If you need me, we can take pictures of each other being silly or brushing
our teeth or whatever.” So that was the idea we started with.
We finished the song and it was chosen to be a single release. The first time I heard the song on the radio, I was going hunting. It was about 4:30 in the morning. I was driving by myself, eating a honey bun for breakfast. The DJ said, “Here’s a new guy named Andy Griggs and his new single.” I just pulled over and started crying. Every week, I watched it go further and further up the charts. But I had forgotten all about the guitar. I was just excited that the song was doing so well. Eventually, it got all the way up to #1 on the Cashbox charts and #2 on Billboard.
Brent showed up at a #1 party we had on Music Row and he was carrying that guitar. I just looked at him and said, “Listen. Thanks for the song. Thanks for the offer, but the answer is no. I just can’t take that guitar from you.”
But he said, “No, this guitar belongs to you. I made a deal. Please don’t hurt my feelings. You have to take this guitar.”
So I said, “Well, since you put it that way, maybe I will.” And I took it and gave it a nickname. He had always called me Catfish and I always called him Bullfrog, so I named the guitar Jeremiah in honor of him.
A little while after that song hit, I got a letter from a lady. I think she was from New Mexico. She told me that she had left her husband one day in the early morning. And before she could get out of town, she turned on the radio and heard “You Won’t Ever Be Lonely.” She started crying and turned back around and went home and her husband was there waiting for her. He had just gotten up and was worried about her. She said in the letter they were still together and doing fine. That was the first time that I heard about one of my songs really changing somebody’s life. Her name was Laura.