Brantley Gilbert Reflects on Success, Message of ‘One Hell of An Amen’
Brantley Gilbert recently earned his fourth No. 1 song with "One Hell of an Amen," from his 2014 sophomore Just as I Am album. The singer says that, out of all of his hits, this one means the most to him because of its message.
"We’ve had No. 1s before, and they’re all cool experiences. There's really no greater honor for a song, I don't think. But this one was on a different level," Gilbert told The Boot and other reporters at his "One Hell of an Amen" No. 1 party. "This one was so personal to me. It’s really close to my heart, and I feel like it had a lot to say, and I feel like it did a lot of healing and a lot of help all over the country. We just read e-mail after e-mail about how the song helped people through different situations, and that’s the No. 1 benefit in my job."
Gilbert co-wrote the tune, along with his good friends Mike Delke and Brian Davis. With lines like, "Preacher said he died too young / Over there totin' that gun / For Uncle Sam and our freedom / Mom and Daddy dressed in black / They folded up that flag / Handed it to Dad / Started prayin' / Yeah, he went out 21 guns blazin'," the song spoke especially to the audience that Gilbert is most passionate about: veterans.
"One of the e-mails that came in that stuck to me was a girl that wrote in and said that her dad was in the Vietnam War, and he came home," Gilbert recalls. "We all know how they were treated when they got home from that war. She was mad at the world and mad at everybody for being mad at her dad. It seemed like when he was just starting to get better, he was diagnosed with cancer, and it eventually killed him.
"She said she spent years just mad at the world, mad at God and mad at everything," he continues. "When she heard the song, for some reason, something struck a chord, and it made her look at it different. She said, ‘I realized God didn’t take my dad from me to be mean or anything like that. I realized my dad was a fighter, and God just needed another soldier.'"
The Georgia native, who writes or co-writes everything he records, says that he had a feeling, even while they were still writing it, that "One Hell of an Amen" would be a "career song."
"We really just tried our best to keep it simple and not try to be too artsy with it," Gilbert explains. "It was a simplistic song that just offered a different way to look at the situation, a more positive way, and hopefully offer some time of healing. I’ll say, from that point, it almost wrote itself, once we really got our direction on it.
"You know, kind of, when one writes itself like that, that you’re on to something. You don’t know what," he adds. "I know I’m not good enough in my job to say, ‘Okay, I’m going to sit down and write a No. 1 song.’ This might not be a real popular opinion these days, but this song was a 'God thing,' in my heart and in my mind."
In September, Gilbert organized Chattanooga Unite: A Tribute on the River, a benefit concert to honor those killed during the mid-July shootings at a military recruiting center and a Navy-Marine training center in Chattanooga, Tenn. Trace Adkins, Colt Ford and Aaron Lewis also performed.
"Very few times in my life have I ever had that feeling on stage," Gilbert says of the outdoor concert. "That was one of the most rewarding shows that I’ve ever played in my life. It’s just about being able to give something. I say all the time that God blessed me with a platform a lot bigger than me.
"I will tell you one of the things that moved me more than anything -- I kind of went out on a limb," he recalls. "You know, at an event like that, there are a lot of political people around, and there are a lot of people that have a lot of opinions that like to write … I really felt led, I guess, to have a moment of silence, and that carried into a prayer. With all of the multiple ethnicities that were out there, for everybody, even people that weren’t believers, were respectful and quiet, and to have that many people go silent, out of respect, that’s just a God thing."
Download "One Hell of an Amen" on iTunes.
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