The Little Girl

Is John Michael Montgomery's song 'The Little Girl' based on a true story?

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Glurge:   John Michael Montgomery’s song “The Little Girl” is based on a true story.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2000]

There was an atheist couple who had a daughter. The couple never told their daughter anything about the Lord.

One night, when the little girl was five years old, the parents fought with each other and the dad shot the mom, right in front of the child. Then, the dad shot himself. The little girl watched it all.

She was sent to a foster home. The foster mother was a Christian and took the child to church. On the first day of Sunday School, the foster mother told the teacher that the girl had never heard of Jesus, and to have patience with her. The teacher held up a picture of Jesus and said, “Does anyone know who this is?”

The little girl said, “I do. That’s the man who was holding me the night my parents died.”

Origins:   This piece (of unknown origin) about an orphaned girl who sees a picture of Jesus in Sunday school and identifies him as the man who comforted her the night her father killed her mother and himself is a fairly typical example of glurge, ordinarily unremarkable save for one facet: it has been turned into a smash hit by Nashville songwriter Harley Allen and country singer John Michael Montgomery. The song, titled “The Little Girl,” was penned by Allen after his brother forwarded him the above-quoted glurge via e-mail. “It moved me more than I’d been moved in years by a story,” Allen said. “I grabbed the guitar and just started writing. It didn’t take any time at all, about 10 to 15 minutes.”

According to USA Today:

Allen says he and his brother have tried to track the tale’s source, without any luck. It’s posted on dozens of Web sites — usually with a title such as Held by Jesus or And the Little Child Shall Lead Them — with no attribution. “We don’t have a clue” about its origin, Allen says, “but if it ain’t true, it ought to be.”

Good luck, guys. Folklore is replete with tales of children who can see — and are saved by — helpful spirits, Jesus, or God, who guide and protect

innocents from the depravations of evil adults (typically presented as non-religious or, specifically, non-Christian, while the victims are characterized as being blamelessly non-religious because they are too young and unknowing to have yet made the conscious choice to spurn God).

Trying to track the origins of this one would be like trying to figure out who created The Vanishing Hitchhiker legend.

A strange coincidence related to this song is that another country singer, Allison Moorer, released a new album (“The Hardest Part”) the same day as John Michael Montgomery came out with his album (“Brand New Me”). Moorer’s release also includes a song (“Cold, Cold Earth,” the final, hidden track) about a father who shoots his wife and then turns the gun on himself, only in this case the story is all too true — the man and wife were Moorer’s parents.

Last updated:   21 February 2007


  Sources Sources:

    Mansfield, Brian.   “Country’s ‘Little Girl’ Sending Fans to Hankie Heaven.”

    USA Today.   7 September 2000   (p. D1).

    Marbella, Jean.   “Country Tunes Shift from Old Cheatin’, Drinkin’ Standbys.”

    Chicago Sun-Times.   31 October 2000   (p. D1).