Late Night OTB – What Hurts the Most

An artist you've almost certainly heard but probably never heard of.

I stumbled on this about a year ago:

The tune, “What Hurts the Most,” was written in 2002 and performed by several artists. It became a hit in 2006 with the Rascal Flatts version:

I heard that one a lot when it came out. I like Rascal Flatts and theirs is a really good song. But I prefer Lewis’ take. He’s not as pure a vocalist as Gary LeVox but his timber and pace are better on the song. It comes across as more mournful and mature.

For those who haven’t heard of Lewis—and I hadn’t—it turns out that you’ve likely heard him before. He’s the lead singer of Staind, who had a breakout hit with “It’s Been Awhile” in 2001.

Lewis still occasionally tours with Staind still but launched a career as a country music solo artist in 2010. His “What Hurts the Most” cover came out in 2012.

UPDATE:  A former student, now an attorney in Mississippi, pointed me to this live version by Jeffrey Steele, who wrote the song back in 2002:

It’s quite a powerful rendition. Contrary to some of the commentary on the video, Steele did not write this in memory of his son, Alex–who was tragically killed in an ATV accident five years after the song was written and after Rascal Flatts had a hit with it.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He's a widower and father of two young daughers. He earned his PhD from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anonne says:

    Yes, I would tend to agree with you. The Rascal Flatts version is too pop-py and upbeat in parts. It sounds better stripped down, slowed down, where the focus is on the voice and not the overpowering musical arrangement.


  2. Franklin says:

    I knew the song but somehow hadn’t realized Staind performed “It’s Been Awhile”; I was aware of another song “So Far Away”. Anyway, he’s a very good singer, with a powerful rendition here.