Editor’s Note: CMT Hot 20 Countdown takes a look back on 10 years of incredible music with Decade, a weekly segment that features a modern country classic that made its greatest impact between 2010 and 2019. This week, Luke Combs talk about his 2019 single, “Beer Never Broke My Heart.” CMT Hot 20 Countdown airs at 9/8c Saturday and Sunday mornings.
CMT: Take me back to when you wrote “Beer Never Broke My Heart.”
LC: I’d had that title in my phone for a long time and I always thought it was super neat. I was actually on the road my first headlining tour, I can’t exactly remember, I think we were in Kansas I believe. And it was Jonathan Singleton and Randy Montana on the bus with me. I’d thrown this idea out to them and they really loved it. And heck, by the time I got back to the bus from soundcheck it felt like they had half of it written without me anyways, which usually ends up for the better!
And so they played me what they had on it. They made a little demo right there on the bus. I was like, “Man, this just feels like right.” I wanted it to be fun and feel like an anthem-y thing and I think they knocked it out of the park with that vibe right out of the gate. We got back together in town a couple of weeks later and finished it and it felt like next thing we knew it was out and No. 1 before I could blink my eyes almost. It was pretty wild.
Is this one of the ones that you kind of threw out there for people on Instagram? How’d you do it?
I had played it at a little radio show with my guitar player Tyler and it was just the two of us there. We played it and the crowd was singing it by the end of the thing. It was pretty wild and I think a fan put it on YouTube like the next day and that week it had like 10 million views on it or something like that. …
We hadn’t even recorded in the studio yet. So me and the band worked it up, started playing it out on the road and the next thing you know, I named my tour after it before it was even released. (Laughs.) So we really kind of jumped the gun, I guess. Everything went backwards on that one. But we had a feeling that people were loving it because we were seeing it out on the road and that ended up being the case.
You were saying that people were singing the words back to you even before you finished the song and yet they’ve obviously never heard the song. Explain how that even happens.
I think if you can get that perfect mix of melody and a relatable hook, a relatable chorus, I think people just start singing along. They don’t even know why. I find myself singing along to songs that I’ve never heard before, too, so I think it’s a natural progression that sometimes you write a song where that happens and that just happened to be one of them.
What was it like for you to see how this thing just shot up the charts and then stayed there?
Yeah it was pretty wild because we had been going so crazy, schedule-wise, for the last four or five years and it seemed like right when “Beer” came out, we had a break where we had like 6 weeks off without any shows. And it felt like to me that it was at its peak at that time, which was just here recently. Usually we’re out on the road and we’re doing this thing and we’re doing interviews and we’re talking about it.
I feel like I missed all of that with this song because we were on a break from the road which lends to a break from press and media and interviews. So we never really got to talk about it that much because it went so fast, and by the time we got back it was like, we’re onto the next. This next single was already here and already charting at that point. So it was like this weird thing where we had been playing it for so long I don’t feel like I missed anything.
Does it feel like it’s put you on a different level?
Yeah I think this song was really huge for us. We already had so much momentum going, things were going really well, and this song came along and it stepped up. It was the most rockin’ thing that we have at that time and I think still is. It elevated us, whereas the highs in our shows before were “Hurricane” and “Best of Me,” which are upbeat songs but they’re midtempo. They’re more like vibey songs as opposed to a right-in-your-face kind of thing. And we have plenty of those songs. We just never had one that has been out at radio and that’s been so received by people on such a bigger level than even a song on the album can be.
What has it been like to stand on the stage and sing this song to people?
Oh it’s super fun, I’ll tell you that much. It’s definitely a thrilling experience and the energy is really, really awesome. I think the crowd probably feels it as much as we do. We’re all in this moment together where they’re so excited to hear their favorite song and we’re so excited to play their favorite song for them. So it’s a similar feeling. I’ve been in the crowd before, and been at a show where everybody’s singing along just as many times as I’ve been onstage with everybody singing one of my songs. And it’s definitely a similar feeling. It’s really fun and I’m just enjoying it while it lasts.