Story Behind the Song: Cole Swindell, ‘You Should Be Here’
Cole Swindell and Ashley Gorley co-wrote "You Should Be Here," the debut single from and title track of Swindell's 2016 sophomore album. Written about Swindell's heartache over the sudden loss of his father, the song became a No. 1, platinum-selling hit, inspiring fans all over the country to share their own stories of loss.
Below, Swindell and Gorley recall how they were inspired to write "You Should Be Here," and share their own reactions to the success of the song.
Ashley Gorley: I remember writing that song in an odd scenario -- in a parking lot on the back of the bus before a concert; that wasn’t really the right place or time for that type of song to be written. It really came from a text that my daughter and I were exchanging when I was taking a picture of the concert, saying “You should be here,” because she loves music, so a totally different context -- “You should be here. You should see this.” -- and then thinking about that when I got back on the bus with Cole, and him going into a thing about his dad. It was a really cool flip.
It was a really cool "God thing" that happened with that song; that was a special co-write ...
Cole Swindell: I remember when he said [the title], all I could say was, “Please let me write that with you,” and he was like, “That’s why I brought it up.” I knew when it hit me ... I wanted to write it, and he wanted to write it to where it was special to me but also where other people could relate. I’m not the only one who has ever lost somebody; I’m not the only one who was missing somebody. That’s what I love about country music, that’s what I love about songwriters, is being able to put out those words, those feelings. From the first lyric and note of the song, it’s got that feeling about it, and that’s what we tried to do.
I didn’t really [write about my father] until after Ashley said that title. I knew I wanted a song about that, something that would honor him but also help others. It was an answer to prayer when he said, “You Should Be Here." I’ll never forget that title and how it made me feel.
It’s a huge honor to have a song like that. I know how music makes me feel; I know how it affects my life ... I’ve been fortunate enough to have some hits, but nothing like this. And this is the reason I fell in love with country music, so for me to be the artist behind it, having written it with someone like Ashley … Songs like that are why I love what I do. It is about having fun, and I love having fun onstage, but ... That’s a moment I’ve never had, and as powerful as “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey” and some of those moments are, there’s nothing like seeing someone in the third row with tears, and all I can think of is, “Who are they missing?” and the cell phone lights.
I’ve gotten stories from people who are missing people. When we wrote that song, he was sending a picture to his daughter ... I moved to town to write a song like that, to help others.
Gorley: Some songs are hard work. You try all these angles. That one, we just tried to catch in the air before it got away.
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