Interview: Chris Young Turns Back to God With New Single
Chris Young's eyes spark when you ask him to talk about going to church as a kid in Murfreesboro, Tenn. With a wide smile, the singer will tell you how the entire family piled in for mass on Sundays and stayed involved throughout the rest of the week. He'll quickly recall his grandfather as a church elder and how he became a true believer early on. He takes pride in sharing that his first exposure to music was from one of those pews.
“A guy would walk up and blow a pitch pipe and everybody would sing in harmony," Young tells Taste of Country of his experience. "I thought that was just normal. I thought everybody did that at church.”
It's not not normal, but it's not typical, either. The same can be said of Young's new single, "If That Ain't God." The mid-tempo, traditional country inspirational is a true reflection on faith that you're not used to hearing from Young, one of country's premier vocalists, but a man with far more broken hearts than patched-up souls across his six album catalog. He'll point out that "The Man I Wanna Be" was a conversation with God, and he's right. The No. 1 hit from 2010 is a little like the man with a pitch pipe.
Young isn't trying to make a statement or turn in a new direction. "If That Ain't God" is uplifting and positive and sailing on a need for both of those things in America right now. It simply called out to the 35-year-old.
"If that ain't God, if that ain't Him / If that ain't the man upstairs somewhere looking down on us again," he sings during each chorus. "Don't it make you wanna pray, don't it make you wanna live / Oh, if that ain't God, if that ain't God, I don't know what is."
Young had committed to the song long before the coronavirus pandemic hit. "For me it's just an incredibly special song and it says something that I would have said 20 years ago as an artist and hopefully will say 20 years from now as an artist," he says from his kitchen during a Zoom call with ToC.
Matt Roy, Mitchell Oglesby and Greylan James wrote the song, about appreciating small miracles in life. The first verse leans into the story of a young cancer patient who gets a big win playing baseball. It's made-for-movies kind of storytelling good enough to draw a few tears. Young was actually invited to the credits after he made a couple changes to the chorus and second verse.
"I took a breath, and I looked out the windowpane / At the sunrise, man, only He could paint / It got me thinking 'bout all my crazy years / And the miracles that got me here / Make a grown man wanna cry happy tears," he sings during this new song from his upcoming Raised on Country album (release date TBA).
So, aside from church, where does Chris Young go to find God?
“This might sound weird to some people,” he begins, “Normally, when I’m on a plane. Just because — especially like late night, red eye flights — that’s kind of a time to be introspective. There’s nobody asking you questions and nobody can really get ahold of you. There’s not really anything going on other than you’re in your own, internal thoughts.”
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