I know I’m probably going to love a new artist when we can bond over a six-year-old Tim McGraw album track within the first 10 minutes of meeting.
Which is exactly the kind of great-minds-think-alike introduction I had when Tucker Beathard was in Chicago playing the Windy City LakeShake on Friday (June 19).
Signed to Big Machine Label Group’s Dot Records imprint, Beathard is the 20-year-old son of Casey Beathard, who has written some of the finest country music for about the last two decades. And now that Tucker is making his own country music, I sat down with him after his set to find out how much of his dad’s gift he’d inherited.
“I’ve always looked up to my dad’s songwriting,” he told me, “because that’s as good as it gets. I’ve always been a huge fan of the way my dad tells stories and the path he takes in songs.”
The younger Beathard used to play drums in a band with his brothers until he figured out, in his words, “Dang, you can’t write songs behind a drum set.” So he picked up a guitar and started writing his own tunes.
“I’m an intuitive person and have thoughts in my head, so songwriting is a way to express that. I was doing my own thing with songwriting, but my dad would always be around to throw in advice. He’s been great role model and really helped me learn the craft,” Tucker said.
Some of the first songs he wrote may even make it onto his first record. But he assured me that he is going to be very careful about deciding which songs to cut. Because he is a Beathard, after all.
And that was when this old McGraw song came up.
I asked him which one of his dad’s songs was his favorite. A tough call, he said, because there are so many good ones. He loves Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Blink,” Eric Church’s “Homeboy,” but his No. 1 is “You Had to Be There.” It is track No. 9 from McGraw’s 2009 Southern Voice album.
The song, in a nutshell, is a heartbreaking ballad about a prison visit between a young man and his estranged father.
“My favorite one of my dad’s by far is one a lot of people don’t even know,” he said of the song. “That song, lyrically, in my opinion is as good as it gets. I plan on getting to that point where I hone my craft that well. Like in that last line, where he brings it home with, ’And it hit the man right there’ and then ‘My God, son, so am I.’”
If that’s Tucker Beathard’s benchmark for a solid country song, he’s destined for a great career.