Thomas Rhett’s ‘Beer With Jesus’ Sparks Controversy, Singer Defends Intentions
When Thomas Rhett penned ‘Beer With Jesus‘ nearly three years ago, the country newcomer most likely had no idea he was brewing what would become one of the most controversial songs released to country radio in 2012.
But despite the criticism drawn from the arguable country ballad, the Georgia native firmly defends the track, which serves as the second radio offering from his self-titled Valory Music Group debut disc.
“Those moments stick out in my mind because those were some of the best conversations I had with my buddies … just getting below the surface and talking about deeper life stuff and things that matter,” Rhett says of his inspiration, recalling a life-changing campfire conversation with a beer in-hand (quote via Valory Music Group).
The core complaint with ‘Beer With Jesus’ lies in the direct conflict between religion and alcohol, a dichotomy that is distilled in most major Christian belief systems. Rhett acknowledges that the track even conflicts with his own upbringing as member of a predominant religious group.
“I grew up Church of Christ,” the singer-songwriter spills. “You’re taught that beer is wrong and alcohol is wrong.”
It wasn’t until the 22-year-old singer moved out on his own that he was fully able to form his own personal belief system, deciphering the differences between his lifestyle choices and the religious values he was raised on. Rhett’s personal growth lead to the writing of ‘Beer With Jesus,’ which was penned with Music Row songwriters Lance Miller and Rick Huckaby.
“Basically, the song is kind of me and Lance and Rick’s personal questions — obviously they are probably not as personal as we would talk about in a room, but we tried to make very broad questions about what we would ask Jesus and what we thought the general population would ask Jesus if they had 20 minutes just to sit down and talk to Him,” Rhett tells Taste of Country.
Program Director Gator Harrison of WUSY Chattanooga, Tenn. is one of the many industry leaders who staunchly supports of the tune, which currently sits at No. 21 on the country charts. The son of a preacher, Harrison admits that his own passion for the track is a far cry from his initial impression of the ballad.
“I’m already pissed off,” Harrison says of how he felt about ‘Beer With Jesus’ upon hearing the title. “Then he [Rhett] begins to play it, and at the end, I’m thinking, ‘Oh, crap, I think I just heard the song of the year.’”
“I think the title scares people,” John Paul, Dial Global Vice President of Programming, acknowledges. “But once they hear the song and read the lyrics, the majority of them are like, ‘Oh, I get it.’”
‘Beer With Jesus’ is currently on track to out-peak Rhett’s debut single, ‘Something to Do With My Hands,’ which stalled out at No. 15 earlier this year.