When you’ve been around for over 30 years and put almost 60 songs on top of the Billboard charts, it’s probably difficult to surprise people, right? Actually, if you’ve made it that far it’s because you’ve turned surprises into a career. George Strait‘s new song ‘Drinkin’ Man’ is a gut-punch one dials up again and again.

The dark ballad from an equally dark album can immediately go alongside songs like ‘I Saw God Today’ in terms of powerful messages from the second half of the singer’s career. Its weight is impossible to ignore. The singer uses a heavy piano to lumber into the room like, well — like a drunk that everyone is trying to help.

“At 16 I was on my own and flyin’ high and stayin’ stoned / I knew everything there was to know / I did things I can’t talk about / I wore my mom and daddy out / Late nights they spent prayin’ for my soul,” Strait sings to open the second verse. The fact that he co-wrote the song with his son and Dean Dillion makes one wonder whose experience they’re calling upon for inspiration.

A few other artists have similar songs on recent albums (Luke Bryan‘s ‘You Don’t Know Jack,’ for example) but Strait’s grandfather status amongst the current crop of stars makes him the ideal candidate to bring sympathy to an alcoholic’s struggle.

Her daddy said, she’s all I got / Son, don’t ever break her heart / Promise me before you take her hand / But that’s just too much to ask of a drinkin’ man,” Strait sings.

A few may be offended by a song that paints the ‘Drinkin’ Man’ as a victim, but more will relate to his words. Perhaps someone may even find help in his lyrics. ‘Drinkin’ Man’ is a courageous choice for a third single from ‘Here for a Good Time’ — but a good one.

Listen to George Strait, ‘Drinkin’ Man’