Jimmy Yeary at the 47th Annual CMA Awards
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Jimmy Yeary (second from left), of Hillsboro, songwriter and co-writer of the Song of the Year award at the CMAs
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Hillsboro native Jimmy Yeary writes about true story that won CMA's song of the year

The true story behind 'I Drive Your Truck'

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Winner of the 47th Country Music Awards' 'Song of the Year' went to Lee Brice's 'I Drive Your Truck' co-written by Hillsboro native, Jimmy Yeary.

Yeary, born and raised in Hillsboro, is a country music songwriter, who has written for stars such as Rascal Flatts, Martina McBride and Heidi Newfield. Yeary moved to Nashville in 1994 to pursue his career, and in 2013, his writing won song of the year at the CMA Awards.

His newest song, another No. 1 hit, is 'Anywhere with you' by Jake Owen. 

"It will be exciting to see what possible awards await this song as well," said Yeary.

The future for Yeary looks bright. "I will be on the road with Chris Young over the next couple of weeks, writing for his new record. Excited about the future!" Yeary said.

'I Drive Your Truck' by Lee Brice turned into a No. 1 country song all by happenstance.

Two years ago, fellow co-writer of 'I Drive Your Truck' Connie Harrington was driving in her car and tuned into a radio station where a father was talking about his son who was killed in Afghanistan.

Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti, 30, was killed in action in 2006. Out of numerous awards, he was presented with the Medal of Honor for rescuing a wounded comrade and the Purple Heart. On his last attempt to save a fellow soldier, he was killed, according to NPR.

"That's something I have to live with every day. ... [He] never gave up on anything, no matter what it was," Paul says of his son.

As Harrington continued to listen to the radio, his father was talking about how he still drives his son's truck.

"It's him. It's got his DNA all over it. I love driving it because it reminds me of him, though I don't need the truck to remind me of him. I think about him every hour of the day," said Paul Monti, father. 

"I leave that radio playing, that same ole country station where ya left it. Yeah, man I crank it up. And you'd probably punch my arm right now if you saw this tear rollin' down my face. Hey, man, I'm tryin' to be tough. Momma asked me this morning if I'd been by your grave, but that flag and stone ain't where I feel you anyway. I drive your truck..."

Harrington told NPR that she fought through the tears to write down what she could remember from what she heard. Then, the team of writers went to work to produce 'I Drive Your Truck.'

Once the song debuted, Paul Monti received a Facebook message from a woman whose son was killed in the same battle as Jared. She said that she also drove her son's truck. 

"I remember not being able to listen to the entire song; I'd get into it a few bars or so, and just kind of welled up," Monti told NPR. 

"Til all the pain's a cloud of dust, I drive your truck. I hope you don't mind."

 

As for the rest of the Awards, the entertainer of the year trophy at the Country Music Association Awards is one of the most coveted honors in the genre, but sometimes it's OK to lose - like, say, when George Strait is a nominee.

Strait won his third entertainer of the year award and his first since 1990 on Wednesday night against country music's current hit makers, and no one seemed disappointed. Blake Shelton - one of five performers with a leading two victories - was excited to lose to the 61-year-old whose popularity defies his age.

"That's how it needs to be because he's not just entertainer of the year, he's entertainer of the last three decades, I guess, or four decades," Shelton said. "I don't know who's keeping score. I mean, it's George Strait. He's King George. I couldn't be happier with how this turned out."

Shelton was one of five top winners with two trophies apiece, along with Florida Georgia Line and the trio of Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw and Keith Urban, who won music video and music event of the year for their "Highway Don't Care" collaboration.

Little Big Town took its second straight vocal group of the year.

Like Strait, Swift also was going for her third entertainer of the year, which would have been a CMA record for a woman. Like Shelton, she couldn't have cared less when she lost, instead hugging Faith Hill as they cried tears of joy for Strait. She noted they've both opened for Strait in their careers and she recounted a story about how Strait and his wife Norma dropped in to one of her first headlining concerts when she was a teenager just to wish her luck.

The crowd gave Strait a standing ovation as he made his way to the stage, and stayed standing throughout his speech. It wasn't just a special night for those in the arena. It was also the show's top trending moment on Facebook.

His retirement from the road has gained lots of attention, but Strait isn't a relic. He recently earned his record 60th No. 1 and signed a five-album deal with Universal Music Nashville.

Backstage, he shared with reporters how it has felt as he circles the country on his The Cowboy Rides Away tour, his last.

"When I first started out this year, the first few shows, I about lost it every night, you know, leaving the stage ... thinking, `This might be the last time I ever play on this stage again,'" Strait said.

Strait's victory capped a show that was simultaneously focused on the past, present and future.

Shelton, his wife Miranda Lambert and Swift all continued their winning ways. Shelton took album of the year for "Based on a True Story ...," and won his fourth male vocalist of the year. Voters supplied some symmetry when they named Lambert female vocalist of the year, also for the fourth time, tying her with friend Reba McEntire.

It was the third straight year in which Lambert or Shelton were among the top winners, and capped a year in which they were dogged by tabloid stories about their relationship. Lambert said she wasn't sure why the CMA's 6,000 voters love the couple so much.

"You know, pillow talk, literally, we're like, `Well, our year was last year,'" Lambert said. "It was great, a great run while we had it. We'll drink tonight and celebrate all of our friends winning, because literally all of my friends won awards tonight."

Swift, who performed a somber, acoustic version of her hit "Red" with Vince Gill, Alison Krauss and Sam Bush, won her eighth and ninth CMA trophies before being honored with the association's Pinnacle Award, given to an artist who has taken country to a worldwide audience.

The CMA brought a star-studded welcoming group on stage for Swift that included Strait, Rascal Flatts, McGraw and Hill, Urban and Brad Paisley - all of whom gave Swift a chance to open for them on the road a teenager. A video salute followed with appearances by Justin Timberlake, Julia Roberts, Carly Simon, Ethel Kennedy and Mick Jagger - whose appearance made Swift shout.

"You've made me feel so special right now, thank you," Swift said.

Voters also cast an eye to the future, handing trophies to young stars Florida Georgia Line and Kacey Musgraves, who was a top nominee with Swift.

Florida Georgia Line's Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley scored single and vocal duo of the year. Their quick wins early in the show was more proof the so-called bro country movement is the sound of the moment in mainstream country. Florida Georgia Line kicked off the show performing a fist-pumping medley with Luke Bryan, and quickly returned to the stage to take the trophy for single of the year for their "Cruise" remix featuring Nelly. They also played the new song "Round Here."

"It's been a constant thing all year - we've been trying to wrap our minds around what's going on," Hubbard said backstage of the band's platinum success. "It's been a dream come true for us and a huge blessing for us and something we could have never imagined."

Musgraves won the new artist trophy, besting a field that included Florida Georgia Line.

"It's amazing what 52 weeks can do to a person," Musgraves said backstage. "... Last year I had really crappy seats. You know, I was just sitting back with my roommate just as a fan. And here I am holding this thing."

Collaboration was the theme of the night as Strait and Alan Jackson joined together to salute the late George Jones with a rendition of "She Stopped Loving Him Today." Hunter Hayes and Jason Mraz took a tour of the Bridgestone Arena while performing "Everybody's Got Somebody But Me." And in one of the night's most anticipated moments, Kenny Rogers received the CMA's Willie Nelson lifetime achievement award.

Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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