Behind the Song: “Bible and a .44” by Ashley McBryde

Growing up in Saddle, Arkansas, Ashley McBryde doesn’t remember a time when her preacher father, William C. McBryde, didn’t have a bible and gun nearby. Reflecting on her earlier years, McBryde penned eight songs on her debut EPJalopies & Expensive Guitars in 2016, including “A Bible and a .44,” an homage to her now ailing father.

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Living through a strained relationship with her parents growing up, the gun and the bible were a norm in the house. “He raised us that way, as mean as that sounds, and as sweet as that sounds,” said McBryde in a recent interview.

Her father’s old Martin D-35S guitar, which she wasn’t allowed to play until he had passed away, was the one she ended up using to write “A Bible and a .44” on.

“I used to get a spanking when I was little for playing it,” said McBryde. “I was at his house on his 70th birthday, and he wasn’t home, and I knew where the guitar was, so, I pulled it out of the closet, and got it out of the case, and started writing ‘A Bible and a .44.’”

A few months later, McBryde sang the song for her father, and he gave her the guitar. “I told him, ‘That’s not my guitar. Someday it will be, but it’s not mine now,’” she remembered. “He said ‘I can’t watch you play it after I’m gone, and I’d like to see you play it.’ To this day, the song makes me tear up.”

To date, “A Bible and a .44” has been covered by Trisha Yearwood, and in 2017 Eric Church invited McBryde to sing the song with him on stage in Chicago during his Holdin’ My Own Tour. The video went viral, leading to more live shows for McBryde, who was also signing a publishing deal and working on her full-length debut, Girl Going Nowhere (2018), at the time.

In a recent interview on Love Junkies Radio with Lori McKenna, Liz Rose, and Hillary Lindsey on Apple Music Country, McBryde talked about how she found out Trisha Yearwood cut “Bible and a .44” on Twitter. 

“For some reason, it came across like the little top of my phone,” said McBryde, “I don’t have any notifications turned on or anything, so it was a little strange. I see that my name has been mentioned in something, so I touch it and it says something about Trisha Yearwood and ‘Bible and a .44.’”

Aware that Yearwood was familiar with the song after her husband Garth Brooks called McBryde a few years earlier to talk about her song “Girl Going Nowhere,” which he would later cover, and “A Bible and a .44.”

“He said, ‘Jack Yearwood (Trisha’s Father)… that song really describes him to a T,’ and that made me feel really good,” said McBryde. 

On tour with Brooks and Dunn in Virginia, McBryde knew Yearwood had cut the track, featuring Patty Loveless singing harmonies, and was releasing it at midnight. Coincidentally, Church was also releasing the live rendition with McBryde on his 61 Days in Church, Volume 3, and Brooks added the “Guy Goin’ Nowhere” on his 2018 release Triple Live as well.  

“Now, Trisha Yearwood legit cut ‘Bible and a .44,’ so we’re sitting at midnight in the bus, me and all the guys, and I said, ‘it comes out at midnight, and I haven’t told you that Patty Loveless is singing the harmonies,’” said McBryde. “We downloaded it at midnight. The song ends and everybody kind of sat there quietly, and I said, ‘Guys, we just experienced the most ’90s moment possible.’” 

McBryde added, “We just got off the stage opening for Brooks and Dunn, and then Trisha Yearwood released a song that I made up, and Patty Loveless was the harmony vocal on it. That’s the most 1990s thing that can ever happen to anyone, and I mean, it couldn’t happen to a more appreciative ’90s kid.”

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