Inspiration for a song can come from anywhere. Sometimes it’s something a songwriter overhears at a grocery store, or a message from a friend, or a billboard on the highway. But did you know that a line in Forrest Gump inspired not only a mega-hit recorded by George Strait but also his album title? The story – and the unbelievable conversation Strait and songwriter Bob DiPiero shared about recording the song – are best told by DiPiero himself.
“This is all true,” DiPiero shares. “I went to see the movie Forrest Gump, and in the movie, Forrest is talking about his girlfriend Jenny. Jenny would leave and come back, and leave and come back, and he’s talking about her, and he said, ‘all of a sudden, out of the blue clear sky, I get a letter from Jenny.’
“And I’m just sitting in the movie theatre eating popcorn and going huh, blue clear sky, that’s backwards, isn’t it? It’s clear blue sky, what the hell’s this guy talking about?” he laughs. “But it stuck in my head, and the next day I had this writing session with Mark Sanders and John Jarrard.” He presented the idea – they, too, thought it was backwards. “That’s what’s cool about it,” DiPiero said, “You know you’re never going to fall in love again, you’re never going to find the person of your dreams, and then out of the blue there she is, or there he is, out of the blue clear sky.”
A month later, DiPiero receives a phone call from Tony Brown, a producer in Nashville. “I’m in the studio with George Strait and we’re just about to record your song, but don’t you think that the song ought to be called ‘Clear Blue Sky?’” DiPiero recalls Brown asking.
“I was just shocked that he even had my phone number,” he says, “so I told him how the idea came to be, I went to see Forrest Gump, blah blah blah, and he goes, okay, hold on, and he passes the phone, and this voice comes on, and the voice says, ‘Hello Bob, this is George Strait; hey man, where are you from?’” DiPiero asked him what he meant. “Well, I’m from Texas, in Texas, we say clear blue sky,” Strait said.
“I didn’t know what to tell him, so I told him the truth,” DiPiero says, and he told Strait about going to see the movie and the line that inspired the write, and asked him how he thought he was going to record the song.
“Well, let me ask you something,” Strait said. “Do you think there’s many Gumpsters out there?”
DiPiero said he thought so, “the movie theatre was full of Gumpsters, and when I left, people were lining up to get in to see the next movie and to get Gumpsterized.”
“Well, I guess we’ll be Gumpsters, then,” said Strait. “Blue Clear Sky” went on to be a multi-week number one for the Texan, and he named his album for the song, a subsequent CMA Album of the Year.
“I happened to run into him a year later,” DiPiero says, “and he said, ‘you know, I didn’t tell you this, but I tried to sing it clear blue sky, and it just didn’t have that thing,’” DiPiero recalls, laughing. “I was just thrilled he’d cut the song, but it’s interesting he told me that.”
Check back for the full interview with incredible songwriter, Bob DiPiero soon.
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