Anderson is one of the most prolific country artists of all time: 36 of his songs have reached the Top Ten, and his songs have been recorded by many other artists (including Conway Twitty, Roy Clark, George Straight, and Brad Paisley). He's been in the Grand Ole Opry since 1961.
But he still writes songs like they used to. This is a new song that sounds old. In 2013 Anderson ran across a story about an old World War II vet who put all his army gear away when he came back, except for his army hat which he wore in memory of his buddies that never made it back. He never talked about the war but when he heard they'd built a memorial to it on the National Mall he asked his grandson to take him. He thought it needed to be a song:
“It’s based on a true story. I met the son of the man that it actually happened to.” tells Whispering Bill Anderson. “In the song we took a few liberties and referred to the old soldier as my Grandfather. But, actually he was the father to a friend of mine and it really happened. He took his Dad up to Washington, to the Memorial and told his Dad not to wear that old Army hat that he wore around all the time. His Dad said ‘I’m going to wear it if I want too.’ So he wore it up there and they were just totally blown away by the response that they got; how many people stopped him on the street; and thanked him and even saluted him and all this kind of thing.”This is old school country music, still being made in Nashville.
Old Army Hat (Songwriters: Walt Aldridge, Bill Anderson)
He came home to Tennessee a young man at the end of forty-fiveOnly one of seven men in his platoon that made it back aliveHe must have seen some tough timesBut he never talked too much about all of thatPut his pictures and his memories in the cedar chestEverything but his old army hat
By the time I graduated the winds of change had blown across our landThey were burning flags and draft cardsWhen they bothered to take some kind of standAnd we used to laugh at grandpaLike he was some old relic from the past'Cause he never left the house less he was wearingThat funny looking worn out army hat
Every eye was on him anytime that he went anywhereThey whispered and they pointedBut you could tell that grandpa didn't careI ain't weaning this for them he said it's a whole lot more than thatFor my buddies who gave everything the least that I can doIs keep on wearing this old army hat
He called me up one morning said he'd seen it on the news on his tvThey've opened up a monument to World War II in Washington D.CI ain't getting any youngerAnd I wish someone would take me to see thatI couldn't help but think their gonna laugh at you up thereIf you show up in that silly army hat
Two strangers both saluted as grandpa walked up to the monumentOne said thank you soldier for a job well done the other said amenAnd a young boy said sir my daddy went to war and never made it backWould you take a picture standing here beside meAnd maybe let me wear your army hat
Every eye was on him and there was not a dry one in the crowdThey whispered and they pointedAnd grandpa stood up extra tall and proudHe said son just keep itWhen the young boy tried his best to give it backYou're a brave little soldier son and every soldier needsHis very own authentic army hat
For your daddy who gave every thing the least that I can doIs pass on this old worn out army hat