Lt. Pete Scobell served in the Navy for 17 years. He was deployed six times as a Navy SEAL. He has two bronze stars with valor. And now he’s got a hit country song, “Hearts I Leave Behind.”
And there are a few people who helped him get from the SEALs to the stage:
1. The late Chris Kyle, whose life was profiled in the recent American Sniper movie. Scobell got to know Kyle’s widow Taya after he died.
2. Country singer Wynonna Judd, who Scobell is currently touring with.
3. And songwriter Travis Meadows, who originally recorded “Hearts I Leave Behind,” which he wrote with Nick Sturms, for his 2013 Old Ghosts and Unfinished Business album.
So this tribute song to the families soldiers leave behind turned into one of those it-takes-a-village stories.
Scobell first got to know Taya when he was on the Patriot tour, doing motivational speeches around the nation. Then he got to know Judd and Meadows when he was in Nashville writing and recording some music.
Then one day, when he was listening to some of Meadows’ tunes while he was on the Patriot tour, Taya heard “Hearts I Leave Behind.”
“Tears were rolling down her face, and she said, ‘Would you please record that song for me? That’s going to help me,’” Scobell told me.
And in a recent Facebook post about the song, Taya wrote, “This song is Chris. It is me. It is all the people who carry Chris in the hearts he left behind.”
But to Scobell, it’s a little bigger than that.
“This song is not just about Chris,” he said. “This song is really about being a tribute to the families. This is what I’d want my kids to hear about me — that this is the life I wanted to live, and these are the things I wanted to do. I hope they never forget me.
“It gives the kids and families something to hold on to. In fact, sometimes when I am getting ready to walk out onstage to sing that song, (Kyle’s daughter) McKenna will be holding on to my hand.”
When I asked Meadows about the song, he told me he just found out that someone had used the song’s lyrics in a tattoo.
“It’s obviously touching lives and helping people,” he said. “That’s the power of music, and I’m humbled by all the action it’s seeing. That song is bigger than me. It is probably the most flattering kind of cut when someone records a song off of my record.”
Going into the studio, Scobell knew the song is bigger than all of us.
“It was so emotional to cut this song because you know you’re leaving a mark, so you want to make sure you’re leaving a good one,” he said.