It was a song that country singer Cole Swindell didn’t want to write, but every night when he goes on stage and sings “You Should Be Here,” he looks out into the audience and realizes it’s a song he has to sing.
“That’s a song you don’t want to hear, but you need to hear it,” he said last week from his native Georgia. “I feel like I’m standing up there to sing ‘You Should Be Here.’ ... There are people out there who needed to hear it as bad as I needed to write it.”
Swindell wrote the heart-breaking ballad in memory of his father, who died unexpectedly just after Swindell, 35, signed his Warner Bros. record deal in 2013.
The song, on his 2016 sophomore album of the same name, hit No. 1.
When he sings it at the AVA at Casino del Sol on Sunday, April 28, he will look out into the audience and surely see the same sort of reaction that has greeted the song night after night. Grown men, women and kids can’t help but get choked up, especially if the video of Swindell and his brothers visiting their father’s grave is playing on the big screen.
Sunday’s concert is Swindell’s first in Tucson. The closest he’s come to us is headlining Country Thunder in 2017.
“I love Arizona and I’m really excited to get to Tucson,” he said, adding that the trip will be a reunion of sorts with his friend DeMarco Murray, the celebrated NFL running back who just signed on to coach with the University of Arizona.
Tucson will get Swindell as he’s coming off an extended vacation . You can bet the avid golfer will hit the links of Casino del Sol’s Sewailo Golf Club sometime Sunday.
He and his band have been off the road with the exception of one-off shows since January.
“This year’s the most off time I’ve had at the beginning of the year,” he said. “I knew we were going to have a big summer and it’s nice to have a little break. But I’m getting anxious. I’m ready.
“I’ve been able to vacation, play some golf. I went to the Masters last week. I’ve been enjoying it, but what I really love is being on the road and being on that stage. I can’t wait to get out there with you all.”
Swindell’s setlist will cover the hits off his three albums — “Middle of a Memory,” “Chillin’ It,” “Flatliner,” “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight,” “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey,” “Let Me See Ya Girl,” “You Should Be Here,” “Break Up in the End” — and some of the songs he wrote for other artists, including Thomas Rhett, Luke Bryan and Scotty McCreery. He’ll also throw in album cuts, including “I’ll Be Your Small Town” off his 2018 album “All of It.”
“That’s what I’m looking forward to in my shows, playing more album cuts,” he said. “Heck I wouldn’t have put them on there if I didn’t love them. There’s a lot of them that I felt like should have been radio singles but we didn’t get to them.”
He’s also focused on creating moments that he can share with his audiences.
“At this point I’ve realized that as much as I like the energy of the show — I like to keep people moving and having fun — songs like ‘Break Up in the End,’ songs like ‘You Should Be Here’ songs that I can throw into the set now and make a moment of it.
“When you’re coming up as a new artist, I didn’t want to slow them down. ... Now I have a chance to have those moments in my shows.”