“Renegades”: The Story Behind the Song

Teachers: The story below is at the beginning level. At the bottom of this page, you will also find the story in a Word document and in a pdf. Permission is granted to reproduce for classroom use. Also at the bottom of the page is an audio recording of the story. More lesson plans ideas for this song are on the Lesson Plans page.


Students: First, watch the YouTube video below. Next, read the story. Finally, read the story again while you listen to it. (The audio recording is below the story.)

(You’re already here! So you don’t need to click on a link after your watch the video. The story is below.)

Two Brothers and a Band

Sam Harris was a singer and songwriter who wanted to start a band. Two of his friends wanted to be in the band–Noah, who played the guitar, and Adam, who played the drums. The band still needed a keyboard player. “Ask Casey,” Noah and Adam told Sam. “He’s a great keyboard player–the best one we know.” Casey was Sam’s older brother.

“No way!” Sam said. “When we were kids, we fought all the time. I don’t want my brother in the band.” For months Sam looked for a keyboard player for the band. Finally, he realized that Noah and Adam were right: His brother, Casey, was the best keyboard player they knew. He asked Casey to join the band, and Casey said yes.

The band–named the X Ambassadors–had a slow start. For years, they were the warm-up band for more famous bands. For example, if a concert started at 8 PM, they played from 7 to 8. The band didn’t make much money. Sometimes Sam and Casey couldn’t pay their rent, and they had to come home and live with their parents. Then their lives changed almost overnight.

A U.S. car company was making a TV commercial for a new car called the Renegade. The company was looking for a song to play during the commercial. The band wrote the song “Renegades,” and the company chose it for the commercial. The song became a big hit.

The official music video for the song became a big hit, too. In the video, the song “Renegades” plays while disabled people do amazing things:  A man with only one arm boxes. A blind woman lifts heavy weights. A man missing most of his arms and legs climbs a mountain.

A renegade is someone who breaks rules and does unexpected things. Why did the band choose disabled people to be the “renegades” in the video? Casey, the band’s keyboard player, is disabled. He is blind. Sam says, “The video is personal. Casey’s disability has a big effect on our band. It forces us to help one another and be a real team. He’s my brother, so we still fight all the time. But he is a huge inspiration to me.”

Story: Copyright © 2015 Sandra Heyer. All rights reserved. Permission granted to reproduce for classroom use.

Two Brothers and a Band.doc   Two Brothers and a Band.pdf

Voice-over by Brandon Haut