For Thomas Rhett, (Almost) Anything Goes When He’s Writing Songs About His Family
In 2015, Thomas Rhett earned a major hit with "Die a Happy Man," a love song for his wife, Lauren Akins. It wasn't his first No. 1 single, but it was his most personal, and its appeal beyond country music meant extra eyes on not only the singer, but his wife, too.
As Rhett has furthered his career, and as he and Lauren have grown their family to include three young daughters, they have both become celebrities in their own right. On their social media accounts and in interviews, the couple have been extremely open about their relationship and home life, and Rhett has continued to drop personal details into his music.
So, is anything between the couple off-limits when it comes to songwriting?
"Yeah," Rhett says during a recent roundtable interview with media, when asked if he and Lauren have ever deemed something too personal to include in a song. He pauses, then adds, "To an extent."
"But, at the same time, when my wife put her [memoir, Live in Love, in 2020] — I mean, I think there's not many layers that you don't know about us by this point, if you've read Lauren's book," Rhett adds with a small chuckle.
Rhett and Lauren have decided, he says, to be "piñatas here, a little bit" — to be forthright about their ups and downs — in the hopes that others going through something similar won't feel alone.
"The more vulnerable that we can be about our lives, hopefully someone else who either hears a song or reads that book that is going through the same thing can kind of look at how we dealt with that, whether it was terribly or great, and be able to kind of learn from it," he says. "So it's kind of become really fun to share really deep stuff in my music ... I think you don't realize the weight of music sometimes."
Rhett continues this plan on his newest album, Country Again, Side A. One song, "Heaven Right Now," is a conversation with a late friend of Rhett and Lauren's; another, "Ya Heard," is a reminder that each of Rhett's prayers — about Lauren, about his career, about his family — have been answered.
The latter, Rhett says, is one of his wife's favorites on his new record — oldest daughter Willa Gray's, too. Lauren's other favorite is its first song, "Want It Again."
"This is her favorite record of mine that I've made," Rhett tells Taste of Country Nights, "which is really nice to hear from your wife."
Perhaps the most personal song on Country Again, Side A — or, at least, the most likely to dig at fellow fathers' heartstrings — is "To the Guys That Date My Girls." The father of three daughters co-wrote it with his own father, "That Ain't My Truck" singer and hit songwriter Rhett Akins, Josh Thompson and Will Bundy, before a 2019 tour stop in Birmingham, Ala.
"I had this idea for a while," says Rhett, who, in addition to five-year-old Willa Gray, is the father of 3-year-old Ada James and 1-year-old Lennon Love. "I've thought about all the ways I would approach that situation [of my daughters dating]: Am I going to be a super-stern dad? Am I going to be the dad that invites him in for coffee?"
Rhett played the song in concert that night, and the reaction, he says, was immediate. "I was just watching grown men hugging their daughters, crying, hearing the song that they just heard for the first time," he remembers.
"Looking out into a crowd, getting to play a song that no one's ever heard, and watching that kind of reaction was really special," he continues, adding, "[It's] a song that I'll just have blasting on the speakers when that day comes when someone comes over to my house and tries to take my kids on a date. I'll just be playing that song in the background."
The Sweetest Pics of Thomas Rhett + Lauren Akins: