A country music star is re-releasing a song updated with male pronouns to honor his identity as a gay man during Pride Month, NPR reports.
Country music singer Ty Herndon released the hit love song “What Mattered Most” in 1995. On the track, Herndon sings lyrics like “If she was sad, I couldn’t tell” and “I thought I knew the girl so well.” In the new release, Herndon swapped the female pronouns for male ones, singing “"His eyes are blue / His hair is long."
Herndon, who came out as gay in 2014, said the new version is more reflective of his life and personal experiences. He said he used to perform the original song thinking of his mother and father’s “great love story,” according to NPR.
"I've sat down and listened to both of them carefully, and I can tell you: There was the kid singing the other song,” Herndon said. “There was the grown-up man that was a lot more emotional and living in his authentic skin singing this song."
"That's how I made it a living, breathing thing for me when I would perform it," Herndon continued. "But at the time, I was also in a relationship with a beautiful boy. His hair was long and his eyes were blue. So, I did think about him quite a bit."
Herndon said he feared that his sexuality would mean having to leave country music, but said he was surprised by the support from friends and family in Nashville.
“I was really prepared to walk away from it all, but I didn’t have to do that,” Herndon told NPR.
He added that this re-release is part of the responsibility he feels to show LGBT youth that they “don’t have to be afraid.”
“It starts with me,” he said. “It starts with artists that have been there.”