Before they got married in 2012, Thomas Rhett and his wife Lauren lost a dear friend. It's taken until now, though for the country star to honor him with a song.

"Heaven Right Now," from Rhett's newly released Country Again, Side A album, is a conversation with his late friend Hunter. Lauren and Hunter grew up across the street from each other and knew each other from birth -- "They were like brother and sister, you know?" Rhett shared during a recent roundtable discussion -- and Rhett and Hunter grew close as the singer and Lauren's relationship progressed.

Hunter died, Lauren shares in her 2020 memoir Live in Love, in a freak accident: He fell off a rope swing and hit his head. The then-engaged couple struggled to come to terms with his tragic death, and used premarital counseling to help them work through it.

Rhett co-wrote "Heaven Right Now" with Zach Crowell and Ashley Gorley. Over an acoustic melody, he tells Hunter about what's been going on with his family and friends, and at his old haunts. "I wonder what you're doing in Heaven right now," Rhett confesses.

"I just noticed that there were certain things in my life that made me think about him. Whether I'm driving by certain landmarks that I used to see him at, I just noticed that he's still here in spirit. Every day, I'm reminded of him," Rhett says, "and so the song was kind of written from my perspective of just like, you know, life is still kind of moving on, per usual, down here -- a lot of things have changed -- but [I'm] still kind of just doing life and wondering what he's doing, because it's probably way cooler than anything that we're doing down here."

Hunter, Rhett shares, had an incredible smile and an infectious personality; he was, the artist says, "somebody that could walk in the room and just brighten any situation." In one verse, Rhett mentions bracelets made in Hunter's memory that he and Lauren still wear nearly a decade later.

"Every time I look down at my wrist, I'm just reminded of [him]," Rhett notes.

"Heaven Right Now" is something of a first for Rhett: Not only had he not yet written a song about Hunter, he's "never really written much about loss, to tell you the truth," he points out.

"I've still got a lot of my grandparents," Rhett adds, "and I will say that Hunter was one of the closest friends I've ever had that passed."

Now that it's out, Rhett hopes that "Heaven Right Now" can help others who are missing late loved ones. He wants it to offer "that reassurance that they are going to see them one day again, and it's going to be awesome."

Rhett's Country Again, Side A, arrived on Friday (April 30). Side B is due out later this year.

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