Luke Combs’ Beer Never Broke My Heart Lyrics Are Personal
Luke Combs' hit song "Beer Never Broke My Heart" became an easy hit upon its May 2019 release, but the lyrics took patience, hard work and a willingness to leave well enough alone. Songwriter Jonathan Singleton says the biggest problem was the singer himself.
"You gotta be careful with guys like Luke, because everything he sings sounds great," the established tunesmith says, seated across a coffee table at his studio on Music Row, smiling. "So it’s, 'Is that really a great line or is he just singing the crap out it?' So we spent a lot of time on that."
On paper, one might not expect the "Beer Never Broke My Heart" lyrics to include a great backstory. Singleton admits the trio of writers (including Combs and Randy Montana) were looking for a feeling and not intent on creating a song that was going to change the world. The first verse mentions bass fishing, dirty politicians, bad bosses, trucks and lost dogs.
"We're checking the boxes almost," he admits.
"I've had a largemouth bass bust my line / A couple of beautiful girls tell me goodbye / Trucks break down, dogs run off / Politicians lie, been fired by the boss," Combs sings to begin the song.
The group had every intention of going back and changing it, but when the song started to take shape, they realized it was a great Luke Combs song — something they were aiming for when they first sat down to write it with the "Beautiful Crazy" hitmaker in late 2017.
"It's on brand, and I think that's why no one minded," Singleton says, recalling the first meetings on Combs' tour bus. It wasn't a, 'What's wrong with it?' conversation as much as a, 'Are we gonna beat this?' conversation — a subtle distinction that understood opens up one's understanding to the many similar choices the group and producer Scott Moffatt made along the way.
Combs brought the title of the song to the group, and they started by discussing possible directions, as well as the singer's own life. Like several of his other hits, "Beer Never Broke My Heart" leans into a past relationship, but personal heartbreak rests just beneath the surface. In that sense, "Beer Never Broke My Heart" is about a girl, but that's almost irrelevant. The second verse describes "her" in more detail and was crafted to explain why this guy was so down on life and love in the first place. It was the final step in the writing process and goes:
"She was a Carolina blue jean baby / Fire in her eyes that drove me crazy / It was red tail lights when she left town / If I didn't know then, I sure do now."
“Those are all real," Singleton says. "(Combs) also knows what his fans are going to want to hear him say, and what they’re not interested in that much.”
The chorus and pre-chorus are what makes it all special. Singleton recalls the group beginning with an idea to bookend the chorus with, "Longneck ice cold beer never broke my heart" and put a kind of gibberish in between as a place holder until lyrics about diamond rings and football teams were culled from Combs' old relationships.
"That longneck iced cold beer never broke my heart / Like diamond rings and football teams have torn this boy apart. "
"But you can pass that line if you want to," Singleton says.
The second half of the chorus is the writer's stamp: "Like a neon dream, it just dawned on me, that bars and this guitar / And long-neck ice-cold beer never broke my heart," Combs sings. It's almost poetic in contrast to the everyman references made throughout. Singleton says they wanted to catch another slice of the audience off guard, but once again the lyric won't trip anybody up.
Moffatt is to be credited with the sound of "Beer Never Broke My Heart," but Singleton says the writers recognized the importance and impact of the pre-chorus — two simple and elegant lines that force a listener to lean in before being hit with the thick, marching cadence of "Longneck ice cold beer never broke my heart." His favorite lyric in the song opens the pre-chorus. It's vaguely familiar and perfectly crafted to spin the song into a true arena-rocker — honestly, it'd be shocking if Combs' wasn't using this song in his encore very soon.
“I’ve had conversations with other songwriters too about that first line," Singleton says, referring to the bridge. "They go ‘Why didn’t you rhyme that?’ And I go, ‘What do you mean? We did.’ In Luke-speak we did.”
"It takes one hand to count the things I can count on / No, there ain't much man that ain't ever let me down," Combs sings the first time. Later it's "But I got one man drippin' down on a cold one."
The then-27-year-old Combs was hungry for new music at the time of the write, having released an independent EP, an album on Sony and a deluxe version of that album. A fall 2019 release of his second studio album would mark 3-and-a-half years between LPs — an unheard of length of time for an artist who's been proficient at every phase of the game. Immediately he took the song to fans, playing it acoustically and then with his band during live shows throughout 2018. Singleton says he and Montana didn't dream big enough to think it'd be the most-added country song at radio ever, but he's pretty confident Luke did.
"He's kinda creepy in that," he says. "It might be a lot of wishful thinking on his part, but it pays off a lot. His gut's really good."
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