by Ryan Isley
SPARTA, Kentucky – Cole Swindell could have been back home in Nashville on Saturday after playing a concert in Wisconsin on Friday night. But an open date and a NASCAR race being in Kentucky was just too much temptation to pass up for the avid NASCAR fan.
Swindell stopped by Kentucky Speedway to see some friends, take in a race and of course attend yet another driver’s meeting. He joked that he has been in so many meetings that people are going to start asking what team he is working for now.
He also took a few minutes to stop by the media center to take some questions, which is when he began talking about his 2015 hit “You Should Be Here.”
The song was one written by Swindell in response to losing his father unexpectedly in 2013 after he had signed a record deal with Warner Music Nashville earlier that year.
Swindell’s hit song has become an anthem for people all over who have experienced the loss of a loved one, this writer included. Having lost my mom in 2011 and then my dad in 2016, I have often been moved to tears when I hear the song.
The chorus alone is enough to make someone reach for a tissue or blame the dust in the room for their watery eyes:
You should be here, standing with your arm around me here
Cutting up, cracking a cold beer
Saying cheers, hey y’all it’s sure been a good year
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
Another person who was impacted by Swindell’s song was Dale Earnhardt, Jr. The artist said on Saturday at Kentucky Speedway that he had heard from one of NASCAR’s most popular drivers of all-time two years ago after Earnhardt, Jr. heard the song. His father, Dale Earnhardt, was famously killed in the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. Of all the people Swindell has heard from regarding the song, that one might have been the coolest, because the elder Earnhardt is the reason Swindell became a NASCAR fan as a kid.
“It’s by far the coolest part about my job,” Swindell said. “I wish I would have never had to write that song or write a song about losing someone but no matter what sport you’re in or what your profession is, we can all relate to that.”
Artists sometimes never realize the impact a song of theirs can have on the people who are listening, but Swindell knows how far this song has reached and what it has meant to people. You could tell by the look on his face as he talked about the experiences with this song that he is genuinely appreciative of the feedback.
“I think that’s what music can do,” Swindell said. “I always say that if this song is the most special thing I have ever written or the most special thing I am a part of, I am cool with that.”
And while the pain of losing his dad will always be there, Swindell knows that he would have wanted nothing but the best for his son and that he would approve of the song.
“I believe my dad would have been cool leaving a little early just for me to write a song that has helped so many people,” Swindell said.
Swindell never has to wonder what his dad would think. All he has to do is listen to the countless stories like the ones I told him today to know his dad would be proud.