Thomas Rhett has unveiled his recently-teased new single “What’s Your Country Song.” It makes its debut on the day of the 2020 CMA Awards, where he is nominated for Male Vocalist of the Year and Musical Event of the Year for “Be A Light,” featuring Reba McEntire, Hillary Scott, and Chris Tomlin.
The new song was written by Rhett, Ashley Gorley, Jesse Frasure, Parker Welling, and the artist’s father and erstwhile country star Rhett Akins, who has become a prolific composer for other artists in the past dozen years or so. Rhett has been building anticipation for the track since April, when he posted an acoustic performance of it on social media. That video has amassed more than one million views on Instagram.
“What’s Your Country Song” makes reference to several classic country hits of yesteryear, including Alabama’s “Dixieland Delight,” Alan Jackson’s “Chattahoochee,” Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places,” and Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine.” In a neat twist, it also namechecks Akins’ own signature song of 1995, the Top 3 country hit “That Ain’t My Truck.” In total, 16 previous hits are mentioned, also including titles by Ricky Skaggs and Jake Owen.
Country in your bones
The new music provides a preview of Rhett’s upcoming fifth studio album from the Valory Music Co. “We wrote this song on the road last year in Dallas, Texas,” he said, referring to his 2019 itinerary that also featured his father on the bill. “It’s really about how I was noticing that no matter where you live or where you’re from, everyone has a little bit of country inside their bones.”
In a statement to iHeart Radio, he went on: “It was one of those days where we really didn’t have many ideas. So, it was one of those days we were scrolling through our phones and I had found this concept idea for ‘What’s Your Country’ or ‘Where’s Your Country.’ And I got that idea just from, I guess, just all my years of traveling on the road and getting to meet people from the country, from California to New York.
“So we started to write this kind of anthemic song, using a bunch of old song titles that really inspired me growing up. So, into all the verses are actually old country song titles that kind of transitioned into a story. It really is just about, what is your country song? Where did you grow up? What’d you do? What’d you do growing up? What were your parents like? Do you remember your first boyfriend? Your first girlfriend? And where do these songs that are in this song take you back to? And really just kind of trying to inspire the listener to remember that those songs were for them, and hopefully they take them back to a really memorable moment in time.”