Rascal Flatts scored the most important signature song of their career with "Bless the Broken Road," but they were not the first act to record it ... or the second or the third, for that matter. In fact, the song had been kicking around Nashville for years before the hitmaking trio took it to No. 1 on Feb. 12, 2005.

Marcus Hummon, Bobby Boyd and Jeff Hanna from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band wrote "Bless the Broken Road" in 1994, inspired by a conversation Hanna had with Hummon right after returning from his honeymoon with songwriter Matraca Berg.

"We got to talking about the circuitous route you take in life and how sometimes you think things are horrible and are never going to get better, but they lead you to something that ultimately is a lot better, whether it's a relationship, spiritual path, business or whatever," Hanna recalls to the Boot.

Hummon played Hanna an idea and an outline he had already sketched out for a song along those lines, and they wrote it out within a few hours. They decided to credit Boyd as a songwriter because Hummon's original idea came from a conversation he'd had with Boyd.

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Nitty Gritty Dirt Band cut the song first, including it on their 1994 album Acoustic. Hummon also cut the song for his debut album, All in Good Time, in 1995, and Sons of the Desert cut it for an album that ended up not getting released in 1998. Melodie Crittenden recorded the song for her self-titled debut album in 1998, under the title "Broken Road," but it never realized its full potential until Rascal Flatts included it on their Feels Like Today album in 2004 — ten years after it was written.

Released as the second single from the album in November of 2004, "Bless the Broken Road" reached No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Track chart on Feb. 12, 2005, and spent five weeks at the top of the chart. It went on to receive platinum certification and won a Grammy for Best Country Song, and has gone on to become Rascal Flatts' most important signature career song.

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