Rodney Atkins has revealed that his 16-year-old son, Elijah, was involved in an intoxicated driving accident earlier this week.
Eli went back to high school early in the week, and as Atkins told Taste of Country before his set at WE Fest on Friday, "He was in an accident. A methed-out drunk driver hit him."
Atkins didn't give further details about the accident, but thankfully, his son sustained no injuries.
"He's fine," the singer assured the outlet. "Not a scratch on him, but it totaled his truck."
Atkins wrote one of his biggest hits, "Watching You," for Eli when he was still a child, and he says the message of the song came full circle in the wake of his son's close call.
"I talked to him, and I said, 'It's OK, you walked away from this. It's an opportunity to look around, and something good is gonna come out of it.' And he said, 'Oh, I know, Dad. I know from watching you; I've learned that when the worst things happen in your life to keep your head up, because that's when some of the best things are gonna happen."
Another of Atkins' songs, "If You're Going Through Hell," has had a special impact on many fans over the years, and he also recounted receiving an email from a listener just weeks after the song was released in 2006, before it had even become a hit. Despondent because he had lost his job and his wife had left him, the man "was sitting in his truck in the parking lot of his church, and he had a pistol between his teeth," Atkins recalls. Just then, the fan wrote, "If You're Going Through Hell" came on the radio, and after hearing its hopeful message, he ditched the pistol in a pond and returned home.
"Your song made me realize it was a permanent solution to temporary problems," the man told Atkins.
The singer says stories like that are part of why he's careful about the lyrical content of his songs.
"I definitely try to record songs that are gonna have an impact positively, hopefully," he reflects.
Atkins recorded his current single, "Caught Up in the Country," with the Fisk Jubilee Singers, and it's a song that he relates to very personally.
"I love what it says about being outdoors," he told Taste of Country Nights in May. "I feel a connectedness ... it makes me feel grounded and peaceful. There's comfort in being outside in a spiritual way. It's just a special song, and I heard it in a way that it wanted to be heard as an anthem."