To the casual fan, Brantley Gilbert may not necessarily seem like the most introspective and emotional of artists. He’s often seen in leather, sometimes wears a necklace with brass knuckles on the end to match his brass-knuckle-bearing microphone, and his shows can get particularly rowdy. For every “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do,” there’s a “Bottoms Up” Gilbert’s sending to radio. But Gilbert is a skilled songwriter, and when he puts that skill towards a deep expression of emotion, he can be incredibly moving.
One such song is “You Promised,” a solo write that surfaced years ago but has never been included on an album. It remains a huge favorite among fans – the top video of it on YouTube has over 10 million plays – and continues to be frequently mentioned on social media. The piano ballad revolves around the regret and pain of an ended relationship.
“It was back in October when I said it’s over and hid / Behind the door / Behind the shame of my conviction / Beside myself / Beside some empty pill prescription,” Gilbert sings.
“With me it’s mostly life experiences,” Gilbert told a fan this year when asked about his writing inspiration, especially with regard to “You Promised.” “I try not to write about anything I haven’t been through or anything I haven’t experienced. So ‘You Promised’ is sitting right back there. (Gesturing to his fiancé). Yeah that one was about the fiancé, that was one of the breakup songs. The cool part about our relationship is she’s got love songs about her and she also has breakup songs and some mean songs she’s not allowed to hear that are on the soon to never be released album. Inspiration can come form a fly on the wall, but a lot of times you go through situations that punch you in the chest, like that one. And you know, those songs stand out because you can tell, I think when I sing that one that she tore me.”
Gilbert celebrates his also-thoughtful “One Hell Of An Amen” hitting #1 at radio this week. He also recently released the deluxe edition of his album Just As I Am, which included a “Bottoms Up” remix featuring T.I., the stellar and equally introspective solo-write “Just As I Am,” and Gilbert’s next single, “Stone Cold Sober.”