“You Should Be Here”

Written by Cassidy Wilson. 02 March 2016.

Before being known as a country singer, Cole Swindell wrote many hit songs for artists such as Thomas Rhett, Chris Young, Florida Georgia Line and of course tour partner, mentor, and friend Luke Bryan. Cole Swindell began his journey as a country singer in 2013 after signing with Warner Music Nashville. He spent the next two years of his career writing and singing hit Bro-Country songs about tailgates, beer, hot girls, and all other forms of drinking. Pop-Country and Bro-Country are constantly questioned for not being country enough. Cole’s success in the country music genre surpasses these doubts.

“Chillin’ It” was Swindell’s break out single in 2013, establishing him as more than just a song writer. This song caught the attention of many record labels and led him to officially sign with Warner. Other singles from his first album include “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight”, “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey” and “Let Me See Ya Girl.” Cole Swindell won the ACM New Artist of the Year Award in April 2015, confirming that the country music industry accepted him and his Bro-Country influences. In contrast to most of his normal music, Cole released his single “You Should Be Here” which has shown a different side to Swindell that his fans seem to enjoy.

“You Should Be Here” was co-written by Cole Swindell and Ashley Gorley. It was released to radio on December 14, 2015 as the title track single from his upcoming album that will be released in May of 2016.Gorley began writing “You Should Be Here” with the idea of his daughter missing out on a such a big show he was doing because she was back home. He sent his daughter a text saying, “You should be here,” and the song title was born. Soon after sharing ideas, “You Should Be Here” was written in just two hours in the parking lot of Gillette Stadium before Gorley and Swindell would be performing in front of thousands of fans. Swindell says when he heard Gorley’s title, “he knew where he needed to go” (Taste of Country). Swindell took the original meaning of “You Should Be Here” deeper.

Swindell signed his record deal on July 13, 2013. Too quickly after, on September 3, Cole Swindell’s father died
unexpectedly. As Swindell gained fame in the country music industry he strongly felt the missing presence of his dad and was continuously wishing he could share these important moments with him. “You Should Be Here” has given him a way of expressing this.

“I thought about my dad,” Swindell said in an interview with Radio.com. “Just all the things that I get to do. It ain’t even for the folks that maybe haven’t lost somebody, maybe you just miss somebody. Maybe you have family in another state, or there’s those moments in life that we all get to share, and it’s like if that one person was here, man, they’d freak out, they would love it.” Anyone that has lost someone special to them, knows the feeling of not having them around for all of life’s important events. Cole sings about this feeling and makes it relatable for anyone that understands what he has gone through.

The music video for “You Should Be Here” shows Swindell’s experience with loss first hand. It opens with actual footage of that day in July when Cole called his dad to tell him he had officially signed with Warner Music Nashville. The video then transitions to Swindell’s tour bus pulling up to his brother’s house where he reunites with his family in many passionate hugs after he had been gone on the road for a long time.

The music video takes place in Glennville, Georgia. The last time Swindell was there was for his father’s funeral. The music video shows real footage of him seeing his father’s grave for the first time since then, which explains the real emotion shown in Swindell’s face as he sings the lines “It’s one of those moments, that’s got your name written all over it / And you know that if I had just one wish it’d be that you didn’t have to miss this / You should be here.” The music video demonstrates Cole’s experience with loss right as it is happening.

In Cole Swindell’s weekly YouTube video update to his fans, Swindell Vision, he states that making the video was helpful in his healing process. “This video, I think it was therapeutic for me to be with family and do what I should’ve done the last two years and that was to be down there, but I am thankful that people get to see that that’s life.” As Cole stated, “You Should Be Here” helped him in the healing process, so he hopes it can aid anyone else in the grieving process as well.

Not only does this song relate to anyone that has lost someone they love but it can also be a very meaningful song on holidays such as Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. Cole touched on this in his interview with Radio.com “I gave a little shout-out to the troops in my song ‘Ain’t Worth the Whiskey,’ but nothing like this song right here. To the vets, to everybody that’s ever lost anybody to somebody that’s just out of town, it’s gonna touch everybody I hope, and I hope it just means half to them what it means to me.” In the past few years America has witnessed mass shootings, war, and terrorism. Within these events many lives were lost unexpectedly, leaving people back at home to grieve. This is the emotion Cole Swindell is expressing through his song “You Should Be Here.”

The specific timing of this song’s release date in December may have been meant to trigger the grieving emotions of families that are missing a family member over the holidays. Michael Westegard commented on the music video for “You Should Be Here” on YouTube saying, “My 24-year-old son died one month ago…he should have been here for Christmas, for New Year’s, for every day. I miss him so much. His friends put together an amazing video of pictures with this as one of the songs.” This song sums up all the emotions of loss for Michael, Cole, and many others.

One of the reasons this song may have so much success is because of its high level of connectivity. Since its recent release “You Should Be Here” has already sold 225,000 copies. One of Cole’s most well known singles, “Chillin’ It” reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs after five months. “You Should Be Here” is currently third on the list of Billboard Hot Country Songs just two months after its release and it is still climbing.

Some critics claim Cole’s previous success as a country artist makes the song less persuasive. Trigger from Saving Country Music says that since Swindell has already been established as a Bro-Country artist it is hard to trust him when he comes out with something meaningful. Cole Swindell is credible because of how real the lyrics are to him specifically. Who cares if he mentions cracking open a beer! Maybe that is a special memory he has when he visited his dad back home. Avery Clements summed it up perfectly with his comment on Cole’s music video on YouTube when he said, “the people who dislike this song obviously never experienced the loss of a loved one.” Clements relates to this song regardless of the subgenre and doesn’t understand why others can’t do the same.

Drink a Beer,” released by Luke Bryan in 2013, is a similar Pop- Country song about mourning the loss of a loved one. While Luke was known for making party songs such as ‘Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” this displayed a different side to Luke as an artist. When he was starting out, Cole Swindell spent three years on the road with Luke selling his merchandise and writing songs. Throughout these three years Cole’s style as an artist was heavily influenced by Luke Bryan and the ways he became such a well known country singer. Luke Bryan released “Drink a Beer” while Cole Swindell was his opening act on the “That’s My Kind of Night” Tour. Cole Swindell witnessed the success of Luke’s song first hand which inspired him to change up his usual lyrical and instrumental style for “You Should Be Here” just like Luke did in “Drink A Beer.”

Regardless of what others think about the Bro-Country subgenre, “You Should Be Here” is a powerful song in it’s music video, lyrics, and instrumentation.  Unlike Cole Swindell’s other fun upbeat songs, the musical instruments in “You Should Be Here” create a sad tone. The strong presence of the piano and the passion in Swindell’s voice create a soundtrack to the pain of losing a loved one. The instrumentation assists the lyrics of “You Should Be Here” by really solidifying Cole’s message of sorrow. The chorus and guitar presence get stronger at the end of “You Should Be Here” when Cole sings out “And you know that if I have just one with it’d be that you didn’t have to miss this.” But it slows back down in the final two lines when Cole repeats “You Should Be Here” leaving the listener mourning for the one they miss or have lost.

Anyone that listens to “You Should Be Here” cannot deny the powerful meaning in every note sung or played. “You have your own opinions about music, but there’s a lot of folks out there that don’t know you personally and this is very personal to me,” Swindell states in an interview with Rolling Stone. “I hope they don’t relate to it from having lost a parent, but I think anybody can from just the way we miss folks and how lucky we all are to do the things we do.” Regardless of your opinion on Bro-Country, you can’t deny Cole Swindell’s passion behind the song “You Should Be Here.” Although Swindell took a risk and steered away from his normal high energy songs, “You Should Be Here” has proved to be a success due to its relatability, powerful lyrics, strong instrumentation, and efficiency in conveying Cole’s personal story.


Works Cited

“Cole Swindell on Moving New Single ‘You Should Be Here’: Ram Report.” Rolling Stone. 17 Dec. 2015. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.

“Cole Swindell.” YouTube. YouTube, 15 Dec. 2015. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.

“Cole Swindell, ‘You Should Be Here’ [Listen].” Taste of Country. Taste of Country Staff, 14 Dec. 2015. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.

Ives, Brian. “Cole Swindell Talks ‘You Should Be Here'” Radio.com. CBS Local, 14 Dec. 2015. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.

Trigger. “Song Review – Cole Swindell’s “You Should Be Here”.” Saving Country Music. 15 Dec. 2015. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.