TobyMac – 21 Years | Lyrics Review and Song Meaning

The most powerful music comes from a place within the artist. “21 Years” by TobyMac may not be the kind of music he may have ever wanted to write. But this personal count has become a turning point in the artist’s life and career. “What started out as getting some of my thoughts and feelings about losing my firstborn son down on paper, ended up a song,” wrote down TobyMac while announcing the song. Let us dig a bit more into the lyrics and the meaning behind this song.

Toby McKeehan AKA TobyMac had to endure one of the most difficult experiences in his life in October 2019, as his firstborn son, Truett, passed away. The 21-year-old Truett was found dead in his home in Nashville and the cause of death has been ruled as cardiac arrest. TobyMac dedicates his first music since his 2018 project ‘The Elements’ to his son.

Toby shared his thoughts about the song and the recent devastating experience he had to endure on social media;

“21 Years” is a song I wrote about the recent passing of my firstborn son, Truett Foster McKeehan. I loved him with all my heart. Until something in live hits you this hard, you never know how you will handle it. I am thankful that I have been surrounded by love, starting with God’s and extending to community near and far that have walked with us and carried us every day. Writing this song felt like an honest confession of the questions, pain, anger, doubt, mercy and promise that describes the journey I’m probably only beginning. The rest is yet to come. One thing I know is that I am not alone. God didn’t promise us a life of no pain or even tragic death, but He did promise He would never leave us or forsake us. And I’m holding dearly to that promise for my son as well as myself.

Watch “21 Years” Music Video by TobyMac

The first verse of the song describes how TobyMac handled his grieving process–in his bed, crawled up, in shock and unable to comprehend the reality of the situation. Many tried to console him saying that the pain fades away, and it comes and goes. However, Toby has not experienced that the pain ever left him since this unfortunate day. It is unimaginable, the amount of pain a father would endure upon the death of his own son. There is no quick fix to the heartache. Whatever the steps needed for ones grieving process, needs to be followed to retain their sanity.

In the pre-chorus, TobyMac talks to God and asks him why did he send him to his life, just to take him away so soon. The least God can do now is to take his pain away as well. But he knows that God doesn’t work that way. He wishes that he had a couple more days with his son.

TobyMac with his son Truett Frost (Image:

In the chorus, we hear TobyMac addressing his son whom he believes to be in heaven now. Toby asks his son directions to him. Because when the show is over, Toby will soon join his son too.

In the second verse, Toby reminisces his son when he was with him in the good old days. Truett had just performed his first live show in The Factory in Tennessee a week prior to his death. Toby was fortunate enough to be at this first gig. However, Truett’s first show became his last, and Toby wishes to catch his second act in heaven.

TobyMac mentions “Alex blues” which could mean a song that Truett had written, possibly unreleased. Because he talks about listening to his son through “Alex blues” and listening to his beats.

At the end of the song, Toby merely thanks Lord for giving him his beautiful son even for a brief period of 21 years of his life. Toby will rest easy with the knowledge that his son is with God now. Let us bid farewell to Truett Frost through this article.

Let us hear what you think about this truly heartbreaking and powerful song by Toby in the comments below. What do you think Toby means through these lyrics? Drop a comment below.

Adam McDonald

Hi! I am the founder and lead author and editor of Justrandomthings music community. A vast range of personal interests from Hip-Hop to Country to Hard Rock and Punk music will keep you entertained.

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15 Responses

  1. Dvora L. Gehring says:

    Just heard this song this morning while scrolling through my FB feed. I am in tears. I lost my daughter 10 months ago to metastatic breast cancer. She was only 37. I miss her everyday. She, too, is in heaven. She was a strong leader in her Nashville Life Church. I knew Toby Mac was going through his own loss, and I pray for him. I love this song 21 Years. I relate to every word.

  2. Stephanie Jane says:

    This Song really helped me cope with my older sister moving away, my brother graduating, a family friend’s death, you name it. I’m sorry for all of your losses.

  3. Jan C Cassidy says:

    A song of great comfort that I myself have felt, asked and come to the conclusion of these very questions. My son passed in the same way & this song puts the feelings of my heart into words.

  4. Ruth solomon says:

    We are there for you as a spiritual daughter ..don’t worry dear dad … god is with you…his love endures forever…without purpose god won’t take back what he gave us..He loves you

  5. Jen says:

    I felt every verse of this song from the first time I heard it and every time since then. Our son Alex, 23 passed June 14,2019 in a motorcycle accident. Thank you for the beautiful lyrics.

  6. Michael Postma says:

    The first time I heard this song was at my 16 year old son’s funeral. My daughters put it in a tribute video. Kyler was taken from me on a beautiful February 16th. The day after my youngest daughter’s 15th birthday. Every word of this song hits hard.

    • Adam McDonald says:

      We are really heartbroken to hear your story, Michael. We hope this song was able to help you in some way.
      Be strong!

  7. Lori Dudgeon says:

    I just heard the song for the first time today and it hit me hard. My son attempted suicide on April 7th and died on April 25. 2020. He would have been 21 in July of this year. I’m still trying to make since of all of this but I trust in God to get my family through this. I’m from Nashville and just feel a connection to Toby Mac’s loss. God bless you!♥️🙏🏻

  8. Margie Victoria Delgado says:

    Powerful song. Breaks my heart. Love Toby’s trust in God and being grateful for the time given even though it is painful. Love these words! ✨❤️✨

  9. Jones says:

    I thought the “Alex Blues” meant blue eyes or some depression. I would love to find out what Toby really meant about “those Alex blues”

  10. Dandy Dae says:

    This is always so heartbreaking to hear of. A parent losing a child or even multiple children is something completely painful to imagine. I pray that Toby will take his time to grieve and that God will let him know through signs and moments throughout every day that his child is okay and at peace with God in Heaven.

  11. Arlene Stern says:

    Today this song was sent to me by a dear friend! I never knew it existed, but it is has just become the most powerful song I have ever heard, due to the fact that my son, my only son, my TWENTY-ONE year old son was killed by a drunk driver 22 years ago. The pain never goes away, but you just learn how to deal with it. I call it a Box with a Lid….and I do everything I can to keep the lid on the box, but sometimes the lid pops off, and the meltdown begins, but then, it is almost healing, as it let’s all those pent up feelings come out….and then you need to find the strength to put that lid back on the box. This song was so very comforting to me! I’m so sorry Toby that you also had the most horrific thing that can happen to anyone….the loss of a child! God Bless!

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