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A Chinese restaurant might not seem like the best environment to cook up a song inspired by going to church in the South. But that's exactly where songwriters Adam Dorsey and Mark Narmore came up with Craig Morgan's smash "That's What I Love About Sunday"- and it turned out to be more successful than any fortune cookie could have predicted. Mark, who lives in Muscle Shoals, Ala., was commuting to Nashville twice a week to write songs. "This one day, I was on my way in when Adam called about this idea he had for a song," he recalls. "And we met for lunch at this Chinese place to hash it out." "I had always wanted to write a Sunday church song," says Adam, who attends ministry classes once a week at a seminary in Birmingham. "I basically had a title, 'That's What Sundays Are For,' and a couple of images." As they settled in to write, Mark and Adam drew on their diverse backgrounds. "I'm from Southern California," explains Adam, "and Mark grew up in Alabama, and the church cultures are very different. But it was easy for us to come up with universal images that people could relate to." For example, the main characters in the song were based on real-life family and friends. "My mother's name is Betty," says Mark, "and the kid that broke the window is based on something that happened when I was about 10 years old." Adam adds, "Our best friends at church are the Martins, though they don't have a mean freckle-faced kid." The two were on a holy roll, finishing the tune that afternoon. "The song just developed," says Adam. "I'm not sure who changed the title from 'That's What Sundays Are For,' but it worked perfectly with the melody we had." Adam pitched the song to his friend Craig Morgan. "I thought that Craig would be right for it because he feels very strongly about his faith, and that means a lot to me," says Adam. "And his performance couldn't have been better." The song's performance on the charts was also impressive. "That's What I Love About Sunday" is Craig's biggest hit to date, reaching No. 1. "Most people say that it reminds them of their church when they were growing up," says Mark. Adds Adam, "We were going for that hymnal effect, and it turned out very inspirational." Not for everyone, though. "One friend at church told me that he wasn't going to sit next to me anymore," says Adam with a chuckle. "He's afraid I'll put him into a song!"
- BOB PAXMAN