Between his personal lyrics and candid social media posts about life as a dad and husband, Thomas Rhett has been transparent with his fans about just about every aspect of his personal life. But on Country Again: Side A, he broaches new territory with “Heaven Right Now,” an intimate remembrance of a family friend named Hunter who died nearly a decade ago.
Hunter was the childhood best friend of Rhett’s wife, Lauren, and the singer soon became close to him, too. “They were like brother and sister,” Rhett explained during a recent virtual media event. “So once I started hanging around Lauren’s family, I got to become really close with Hunter, and he passed away about nine years ago.”
As Lauren wrote in her memoir, Live in Love, Hunter died in a rope swing accident, where he fell into a valley, hit his head on rocks and was pronounced dead at the scene. At the time, Lauren and Rhett were engaged. They sought premarital counseling in order to grapple with the loss, and they also each received a camouflage bracelet made by Hunter’s mother.
“I’ve worn this bracelet that’s got his initials on it for almost nine years, and my wife is the same,” Rhett says. “Every time I look down at my wrist, I’m just reminded of his smile, and how infectious of a personality he had. Like, [he was] somebody that he’d walk in the room and just brighten any situation.”
Rhett wrote much of his Country Again project during 2020, and the experience of being off the road and spending more time at home helped bring about a shift in Rhett’s priorities as a songwriter, as a friend and as a man. He wrote “Heaven Right Now” “from the perspective of the year 2020,” he explains: A year that made him realize, more than ever, that Hunter is still close to him in many ways.
“I’ve just noticed that he’s still here in spirit,” he explains. “So this song is kind of written from the perspective of, like, ‘You know, life is still moving on pretty usual down here. A lot of things have changed, but [I’m] still just kinda doing life,’ and wondering what he’s doing, because it’s probably way cooler than anything we’re doing down here.”
It was his first time writing a song about his friend. “I’d actually never written a song about it ever. [I’d] never really written much about loss, to tell you the truth,” Rhett explains. “Hunter was one of the closest friends I’ve ever had that passed.”
Now, he hopes that the song rings true to listeners who might be going through grief — and realizing that their lost loved ones aren’t as far away as they think.
“[It’s] just a song I thought could potentially give some encouragement and hope to some people that have lost really close people in their lives…and that reassurance that they are gonna see them again one day, and it’s gonna be awesome,” he adds.