OFFSTAGE: Thomas Rhett: “It’s Not Even About the Beer”

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

Jesus plays a part in hundreds of country songs. So does beer. But the minute you put the two together, Thomas Rhett told me, not everyone thinks it’s such a great idea. So he’s heard some varying opinions about his current single “Beer With Jesus.” When we caught up on Friday (March 8) before his Chicago show, he told me how the song touched a lot of people but how other people focused too much on the beer part. “When you talk about God in a song, everyone’s got a different opinion on it,” he said. “But if you really listen to it, it’s not even about the beer.” He explained to me that “beer” is almost like code for “catching up.” When he isn’t touring, Rhett goes back home and gets texts from his buddies asking to go grab a beer. “And that’s not like, ‘Hey do you want to go get hammered?’” he explained. “It’s like, ‘Do you want to catch up and talk?’” Plus, he said some of his best memories from college were ones where he sat around a bonfire with friends, talking about things that mattered. And when he wrote the song, that’s what was on his mind. One of his co-writers asked Rhett, “What if you could invite Jesus to your bonfire, and you could pick his brain, and ask him if you were living life right.” But even though the song paints a picture of a very meaningful night out with Jesus — “Heaven knows, I’d sip it nice and slow” and “I’d be sure to let Him do the talkin’” and “I’d put my whole paycheck in that jukebox” — Rhett confessed he’d never have the guts to say anything to Him under those circumstances.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.