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Mitchell Tenpenny’s New Song ‘Walk Like Him’ Was Inspired by His Late Father [Listen]

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Mitchell Tenpenny really opens up on his Telling All My Secrets album. This is especially true on the album’s closing song, “Walk Like Him” — a personal track about the death of his father, Mitchel James Tenpenny Jr., who passed away from a rare form of cancer in 2014.

“Walk Like Him” is pretty literal — Tenpenny’s gait matches that of his father’s, something his mother and grandmother often pointed out to him growing up. The country singer-songwriter walked into the writing room with the phrase in hand, but didn’t think it would go anywhere. But co-writers Justin Ebach and Steve Dale Jones were eager to explore it.

“I just kind of threw it out there, and they loved it,” Tenpenny tells People“They pretty much just let me guide the whole thing and do it, and I’m very grateful for that because I don’t know if it would have gotten written had they not let me do that.”

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Tenpenny hadn’t really confronted the emotions he felt after his father’s death until they finally took over one night when he was driving home from a show.

“It just hit me and I broke down that night. There was just something about the loneliness and everything, realizing that my dad’s not there,” he explains. The song helps bring Tenpenny’s father back to life in a way, as he chronicles many of his qualities that are mirrored in himself, like their shared stubbornness and love of the Eagles and how his feet point out at “10 and two.”

Writing the song has been a cathartic experience for Tenpenny, who has been performing it live recently. It makes fans as emotional as it makes him. “[It] got me through the rest of last year, and it got me in a mindset of the next year, which has been the best year of my life so far,” he says of the song that will “hopefully help somebody else, to connect and say, ‘We’re all in this together.'”

Telling All My Secrets is due out in full on Dec. 14. Tenpenny has already generated success from the project, earning his first Top 10 hit with “Drunk Me.”

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