Cole Swindell: Shots Before or Drinks After?

ACM Awards Changes He's Made Over the Years

The first time Cole Swindell performed at the Academy of Country Music Awards, it was just a fraction of a song.

“At first, I’d be performing on the show for about 30 seconds. I’d be excited, but so anxious. I think I had to do a shot right before I went on,” Swindell told me at this year’s ACM Awards before performing with Dierks Bentley.

“But this time, it’s the whole song. And it’s with Dierks. I’ve waited a lot of years to do this, so I want to be as prepared as possible. But then after we do ‘Flatliner,’ when I step off that stage, we’ll be having drinks,” he said.

Swindell grew up watching the ACM Awards on TV, and calling radio stations to request songs, he told me, so he remembers what it feels like to be on the other side of things.

“I remember so clearly when I found out my song was going to be on the radio. I was in my producer’s truck, and we cranked it up,” he recalled. “I couldn’t believe that it was my song coming on that radio.

“It’s one of those moments that doesn’t even feel real.”

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