There'll be no quiet candlelight dinner Saturday evening (Oct. 12) when Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akins celebrate their seventh wedding anniversary. Instead, he will be wowing a packed house at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. Whether Lauren will be cheering him on up close or from a distance the couple has yet to disclose.
Not to worry, though. His love for Lauren is more than enough to keep the fans adulation in perspective. At a No. 1 party Wednesday, the first person he thanked for his success was his wife, who stood at the back of the crowd applauding -- and 23 months pregnant with their third daughter.
It took Thomas Rhett a while, when he was just starting out and still chasing radio hits, to let fans into his life through the songs he wrote and recorded. It began, he told CMT, with his decision to write his wife a love song. In 2015, he convinced some songwriters he'd been working with in Los Angeles to join him on tour to see what they could come up with.
“The first morning we woke up and sat down, and I said, 'Man, I've never written a legit love song about my wife. Let's try to do that this morning.’ I don't remember how the title 'Die a Happy Man' came out, but it was the first real song that we'd ever actually written together. And I remember thinking, 'Dang! This song is pretty good.”
Indeed it was. The charts, record sales and audience reactions all attest to that.
By the time “Die a Happy Man” emerged as a single and music video, fans were well-enough acquainted with his background to appreciate the honesty of the song. “They kind of found themselves in our story a little bit,” he says, “which I think is what made the song so big.”
But it took some persuasion, he recalls, to talk his wife to being in the video. “She was super leery about that,” he acknowledges. “My wife does not enjoy being the center of attention or in the spotlight in any way. But when we started talking about ideas for the video, I looked at her and I was like, 'Babe, I can't -- I'm not gonna -- do this music video with somebody else. I’m not gonna do this with an actress. I wrote the song about you. So you’re either in it or I’m just gonna sing the song by myself and do a music video.
“Our [video] director, TK McKamy, was like, 'Hey, I'll make this as painless for you as possible.' We were going to Hawaii anyway on a vacation with our family and he said, 'We'll just shoot it out there. I’ll bring one camera. Y’all go surf and hike and swim and do whatever you wanna do, and I’ll just be in the background filming. We’ll make a storyline out of it. We really just wanna show your love story.'
“It turned out to be one of my favorite pieces that we’ve ever done. It's a piece that I feel like I’m still gonna enjoy watching when I’m 85 years old. You know I feel like it really captured who we were before all this stuff started to take off and got big.”
It might make charming anniversary viewing, too.