Brantley Gilbert may be one of country music’s most progressive hitmakers of the last 10 years, but with “Heaven by Then,” he’s making it clear that there are certain lines he will not cross.
Gilbert and his co-writers (Brock Berryhill, Hardy, Jake Mitchell, Randy Montana, Hunter Phelps and Taylor Phillips) include country boy touchstones like NASCAR, Hank Williams, John Deere and chivalry in describing a world — no, the world — they want to live in. The hook of this song is that once those things don’t exist, the singer hopes he’s in heaven.
What makes “Heaven by Then” remarkable is the superstar song partners. Gill’s participation is in the harmonies, but Shelton gets a full verse and parts of a chorus later on. These two in particular sound great together. Give the Georgia-raised Gilbert some credit: After years as a lone wolf, he’s proving to be a surprisingly versatile duet partner. A hit song with Lindsay Ell and efforts with Toby Keith, Jelly Roll and Jason Aldean are part of his recent repertoire.
Most of the above mentioned pairings (and “Heaven by Then”) can be found on So Help Me God, a surprise album which dropped on Nov. 10.
Did You Know?: So Help Me God is Gilbert’s fifth studio album on Valory Music Co. and his first in three years.
Listen to Brantley Gilbert (With Blake Shelton, Vince Gill), “Heaven by Then”:
Brantley Gilbert (With Blake Shelton, Vince Gill), “Heaven by Then” Lyrics:
When number three is just a number / And Hank is just a name / When trucks don’t sound like thunder and nobody prays for rain / When you don’t hear ‘Yes, Sir, Yes, Ma’am or Jesus on FM / Then, I hope I’m in Heaven by then.
No, I don’t wanna go today but I don’t wanna live / Down here at a place that thinks that that place don’t exist / If there comes a day this country’s somewhere country don’t fit in / Hell, I hope I’m in Heaven by then.
When they pave all the dirt roads / And John Deeres are dinosaurs / When the last back 40 gets old and young boys don’t open doors / When you can’t hunt a white tail and keep what you reel in / Well, I hope I’m in Heaven by then.
Y’all let me go now
If I don’t wake up tomorrow / To a world that I don’t know / Y’all don’t cry for this old boy / It’s just my time to go.