5 Years Ago: Luke Bryan’s ‘Drink a Beer’ Hits No. 1
During the week of Feb. 15, 2014, Luke Bryan's "Drink a Beer" began its five-week reign atop the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
The contemplative song was co-written by Jim Beavers and Chris Stapleton, and features a narrator coping with the confusing news of a loved one's sudden death ("Sometimes the greater plan is kinda hard to understand / Right now it don't make sense") by popping open a cold one: "So I'm gonna sit right here / On the edge of this pier / Watch the sunset disappear / And drink a beer."
Appropriately, Bryan's vocal delivery is somber and twisted with grief, perhaps because the song resonated deeply with him for real-life reasons: His older brother Chris died in a car accident in 1996, while his sister Kelly unexpectedly passed away several years later.
“She was home with her 3-year-old, and it was like someone turned the lights out. They never determined what happened. The autopsies, the coroner, no one could figure it out,” Bryan told People, adding that her death was “abnormally tragic.”
Still, Bryan seemed to appreciate the chance to use the song as a way to honor his family. In fact, when he performed "Drink a Beer" on the 2013 CMA Awards, he projected a photo of his siblings behind him as the song ended — in addition to asking Stapleton, who also sang on the studio version of the song, to reprise his contributions on the show.
"Luke asked me to sing on the track for his new album, and we've performed it live together, but I'm especially honored he asked me to stand up there with him on the CMAs on Wednesday night," Stapleton said at the time.
Bryan returned the gratitude: "This is the coolest sad song ever," he shared. "It holds a special place in my heart and I am honored the writers allowed me to record it."
"Drink a Beer" eventually went platinum and remains one of Bryan's signature songs. In another touching twist, Lady Antebellum also performed "Drink a Beer" alongside Stapleton at the 2014 CMT Artists of the Year ceremony because Bryan dropped out of the event due to the death of his brother-in-law.
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