Mitchell Tenpenny Reveals Inspiration Behind ‘Not Today,’ Opens Up About Portraying A Wrongly Convicted Man In New Video [Exclusive]

The hitmaker also dishes on touring with Jordan Davis and Luke Combs.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

May 10, 2024


10:00 am

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Mitchell Tenpenny; Photo by Zach Pigg

In his new song, “Not Today,” Mitchell Tenpenny reflects on his college days as he relives the emotions of a breakup while sending a message that it’s okay to take the necessary time to heal. 

The original inspiration for the story came about back when the rising star was still a student and learning to navigate the normal ups and downs of his love life. At first, he wrote it as a ballad, but all these years later he felt the song was missing something. It needed to be revamped and turned up a notch to create a more hard-hitting sound. He was able to achieve his vision with the help of his co-writers Chris DeStefano, Claire Douglas, and Michael Whitworth. 

“I wrote this song called ‘Not Today,’ years ago on a record that I put out before we were ever signed, and I loved it,” he told Country Now. “It was more of a ballad, I love that song but it never hit the way I originally wanted it when I wrote it. So I brought that title back into a couple of guys that I know are more rock-driven and that’s kind of where I wanted it to go.”

Mitchell Tenpenny - Not Today
Mitchell Tenpenny – Not Today

The Song Stresses The Importance Of Taking The Time To Heal

Going through a breakup in the college environment meant that Tenpenny found himself being pressured to go out and spend time with his friends in order to “get over it” and quickly move on from the situation. Unfortunately, that tactic didn’t always seem plausible for someone at such an incredibly low point in life.

“Not Today” hones in on the idea that getting over a breakup isn’t linear. Tenpenny emphasizes this knowing that eventually, on his own time, he will be okay and will feel ready to move on. 

“It’s like, ‘Hey, look, I’m gonna do all that, I’m gonna be fine, I’m gonna get over it, I’m gonna make it work, but just not today. Today I’m gonna hurt, today I’m gonna reminisce, today I’m gonna do whatever I want to do. And then I’ll move on.’ I just thought that was a cool concept of owning the hurt for a little bit,” he explained. 

Electrifying Music Video

Mitchell Tenpenny; Photo Courtesy of Schmidt Relations
Mitchell Tenpenny; Photo by Photo by Zach Pigg

The music video takes this concept and brings it to life in a cinematic masterpiece. The Jeff Johnson-directed video produces an intenseness that matches the song, as the story follows a guilty party played by the “Breaking My Heart” singer. 

The clip opens with him in a courthouse and then suddenly the focus shifts to Tenpenny performing in what resembles an abandoned insane asylum. Once he makes his way into the dreaded electric chair, the country star starts having flashbacks to memories of his past relationship until finally, the chaos comes to an end.

“The electric chair is what grasped me first. So I was like, alright, let’s revamp around that. So I called Jeff and talked about an idea of maybe it being a false accusation that I’m going down death row and didn’t do it. All the reminiscing is of the good times and I’m about to lose it all. It’s not about what the exact lyrics say, but it’s still grasping this emotion of you’re gonna lose it all and you’re re-reminiscing on the past.”

He continued, “I love the energy and the concept of people thinking, ‘Are they really going to go through this? Are they going to kill this innocent man?’ And the whole time he’s walking slowly down to the chair, he’s thinking about this amazing life he’s had that he’s losing and that’s kind of the same concept as a breakup, but a little different.”


YouTube video

Tenpenny weighed in on the process of getting into character and how he felt about stepping into such an emotional role. 

“I’m definitely not an actor by any means, but I do love to portray an idea and I love to try to get that across. When I’m writing a song, I’m generally thinking about it as a movie or as a video. I try to write songs cinematically so that you can kind of follow along in your head. So I’m always thinking about what a video will look like…I think it’ll be really fun to play that kind of role of something that I’ve never really thought about.”

Mitchell Tenpenny; Photo Courtesy of Schmidt Relations
Mitchell Tenpenny; Photo by Photo by Zach Pigg

Playing New Music While On The Road With Luke Combs & Jordan Davis

“Not Today” has officially been added to Mitchell Tenpenny’s set list while out on the road with Jordan Davis and Luke Combs on their respective headline tours. He said because of the upbeat, lively nature of the track, it’s something he looks forward to every night. 

Tenpenny kicked things off on Davis’ Damn Good Time Tour on April 11 and Luke Combs on April 13 for his “Growin’ Up and Getting’ Old Tour, which gives him the chance to showcase his catalog in stadiums around the country.   

While hitting arenas with Davis, Tenpenny says the pair are “having the time of our lives.” They are finally getting the chance to bring their music together for one audience each night, something they have been dreaming of for years now. 

“We’ve been good friends for a long time and we’ve been talking about this for a long time, where it makes sense that we can go on tour together. After COVID, me and him got in a van with both of our guitar players and just went around and played some acoustic shows, just me and him and these clubs, and it was so much fun. We were talking about it and dreaming about it then, and a few years later, we get to finally do this.

When it comes to touring with Combs, the Nashville native admits, “It’s just a whole different thing. It’s one of those where you just try to soak in the moment that you’re getting the opportunity for.”

A full list of Mitchell Tenpenny’s upcoming performances can be found HERE

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.