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Story Behind the Song: Thomas Rhett, ‘Crash and Burn’

Thomas Rhett earned his fourth consecutive No. 1 hit with “Crash and Burn,” the debut single from his sophomore album, Tangled Up. The song is one of only a few on the disc that Rhett didn’t have a hand in writing; rather, Chris Stapleton and hit songwriter Jesse Frasure wrote the track. Below, Rhett and Frasure recall how the singer came to record the platinum-selling tune.

Thomas Rhett: I remember being in the parking lot of my business manager’s office, and he’s like, “Man, I have this demo that I want to play you that Chris Stapleton wrote.” I wrote my first single ever [“Something to Do With My Hands”] with Chris Stapleton [and Lee Thomas Miller]; we’ve been friends for the past five years, and I’ve always been a huge fan and a huge supporter.

When I heard him sing “Crash and Burn,” I was like, “This isn’t like the sad-country-song Chris Stapleton that I’ve been listening to for the last five years. This is crazy. What is this?” [Stapleton] was talking to a lot of different people about what kind of direction he wanted to go in. Obviously we know where he’s at now, but at that time, none of this had happened. So I just texted Chris and said, “Hey, man, I heard this song you wrote called “Crash and Burn” … If you ever wake up one day and decide that you don’t want anything to do with this song, please let me be the first person to have it.”

He texted me a couple months later and said, “Hey, man, I think I’m going to go in a different direction. “Crash and Burn” is all yours.”

Jesse Frasure: “Crash and Burn” was the second song I ever wrote with Chris Stapleton. It was 2012, so it’s been around a while. We write sad songs for dance floors, that’s what we always say: uptempo, feel-good beats and grooves, but usually rip your heart out.

Anytime [Stapleton] opens his mouth, it’s literally like, “That’s great. We’re done.” This one kind of stuck out. And as an outside song, Thomas is such an amazing songwriter. Thomas fought for the song and had it for a long time.

Thomas Rhett: [I thought], “Okay, now I have it. How in the world am I going to pull it off?” Chris singing a demo is the most terrifying thing for an artist to go in and try to recreate and make your own. But we somehow managed to go in there, and we had to lower it like 12 keys, because I can’t sing near as high as Chris.

Dann [Huff] and Jesse did such a great job producing the track and giving me confidence in the studio. And now when I hear it, it feels like I was in the room writing it, that’s how close the song is to my heart. I’m so thankful he let me cut the song.”

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