Thomas Rhett's "Heaven Down Here" -- from his 2020 album Country Things, Side A -- covers new ground for the artist. The song is the first time he's written about a dear friend who died as Rhett's career was just getting started.

Before Rhett and his wife Lauren got married in 2012, their friend Hunter -- who grew up across the street from Lauren and was like a sibling to her -- died in a freak accident, when he fell off a rope swing and hit his head. In "Heaven Right Now," over an acoustic melody, Rhett talks to Hunter, telling him what's been happening with his family and friends, and at their old hangouts.

Rhett co-wrote the song with Zach Crowell and Ashley Gorley. Below, he shares the story behind "Heaven Right Now," in his own words.

Lauren and I had a really, really close friend pass away about nine years ago. I didn't meet him until a little bit later on in my life, but Lauren's known this guy named Hunter since he was born. They grew up across the street from each other, and always were just kind of like -- They were like brother and sister, you know? And so once I started to kind of hang around Lauren's family, I became really close with Hunter ...

I'd never written a song about my perspective from today ... I've never really written much about loss, to tell you the truth. I've still got a lot of my grandparents, and I will say that Hunter was one of the closest friends I've ever had that passed.

And so I kind of wrote that from the perspective of the year of 2020. I just noticed that there were certain things in my life that made me think about him. You know, I've worn this bracelet that's got his initials on it from almost nine years, and my wife has the same, and every time I look down at my wrist, I'm just reminded of his smile and just how infectious of a personality that he had. [He was] somebody that could walk in the room and just brighten any situation.

Whether I'm driving by certain landmarks that I used to see him at, I just noticed that he's still here in spirit. Every day, I'm reminded of him, and so the song was kind of written from my perspective of just like, you know, life is still kind of moving on, per usual, down here -- a lot of things have changed -- but [I'm] still kind of just doing life and wondering what he's doing, because it's probably way cooler than anything that we're doing down here.

It's a song that I thought could potentially give some encouragement and hope to some people that have lost really close people in their lives -- that reassurance that they are going to see them one day again, and it's going to be awesome.

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