Lyrics Uncovered: Cole Swindell, ‘You Should Be Here’
Cole Swindell's "You Should Be Here" lyrics are a major artistic step forward for the singer-songwriter, and are making a big impact at country radio and with country fans everywhere.
Swindell co-wrote the song with Ashley Gorley, one of the most celebrated songwriters in Nashville, and though he was thinking of his late father and has since said the song is about his passing, the "You Should Be Here" lyrics originated from an entirely different thought.
"This definitely had some magic on it," Gorley tells Taste of Country. He got the idea for the title while he was on the road with Swindell and Luke Bryan at a stadium show, during a weekend writing run with Swindell. He remembers it as "one of those kind of dream scenarios as a writer where you're like, 'Whoa, this is crazy.' I know all of the artists involved, and they're playing a huge football stadium. And my daughter is a huge country fan. I think maybe I had sent that phrase to her, just, 'You should be here.' I know that phrase was in my mind just because of some of the places and things I was getting to do, texting that back to my family saying, 'You should be here.'
"It wasn't like, 'Oh, I've got this title I've been saving for you," he adds. "It's just the way God lets it work out sometimes, which is a little phrase at the perfect time, it's like, 'Obviously, this is what this is about.' And we just took off from there. We didn't have to discuss it."
Gorley had a travel-sized miniature keyboard with him, and once they had the title and chords, the song came very quickly. "Cole is a great writer, so he makes it way easier than it has to be. This one couldn't have taken more than an hour or two for this whole song, because once we had that title and it all made sense with his situation, then it just took off from there," he recalls.
It's just the way God lets it work out sometimes, which is a little phrase at the perfect time.
The challenge for the "You Should Be Here" lyrics was to create a story that was personal to Swindell, yet universal for listeners. "You should be here, standing with your arm around me here / Cutting up, cracking a cold beer, saying cheers, hey y'all it's sure been a good year ... you should be here," the chorus states.
"As a writer, when you have a title like that, you want to make it general enough for everybody to relate," Gorley explains. "But once we started writing it, it was a personal song, and we just went for it to be his exact scenario, and people are still relating to it. We didn't dumb it down or make it too generic."
Though the song relates directly to Swindell's experience, the "You Should Be Here" lyrics were very collaborative. "We were just going back and forth, trying to beat each other's lines, and a great song, a lot of times my favorite songs are when I can't remember who said what," Gorley says. "This would be one of those. I know he did, 'They say now you're in a better place / I would be too if I could see your face,' which gave it the magic at the end of the second verse."
The finished track strikes just the right balance between sadness and reflection, and in an unusual move, Swindell's management and label chose it as the lead single from his upcoming sophomore record, instead of an uptempo track. The result is a song that is fast becoming a career-changing impact single, and seems likely to have a lot of longterm effect on the way he's perceived.
"Before Christmas, I told Cole that I'd gotten more texts about this song than any other song I wrote in the last five years, and it wasn't even a hit yet," Gorley shares. "Those are the ones that we want to do. We do the party songs and stuff in between, because they all can't be like this, but if they could, I would do these every day. That's what we're in it for. This is the most special thing I've been a part of for a long time, so I'm really excited that they were not afraid to put this out as a new first single."
Gorley hopes the song can be therapeutic for others. "It helps just for a moment to remember somebody that you haven't thought of in a a little while. More than anything, make the most of the time you have with the people that are close to you, because we don't get that much time with them," he reflects. "You never know when they're not gonna be here, so when they are, you've got to make the most of those moments."