Country Throwback: Luke Combs Crushes ‘Tennessee Whiskey’ in 2018 Ryman Concert

by Jon D. B.

If you’re tired of hearing “Tennessee Whiskey” covers – give this last one a shot – as Luke Combs gravels his way through a killer Ryman rendition of the country classic.

We’re with you. Since Chris Stapleton‘s brilliant vocal and guitar “Tennessee Whiskey” performances hit in 2015, the song has been a little worn out. From every would-be country singer in every dive bar across America, to some of the biggest names in the industry covering the song to death – it’s time to let the dog lie, right?

Eh… let’s give it one more shot.

Just about one of the only voices left that could warrant another cover of “Tennessee Whiskey” is young Luke Combs. The unlikely country megastar has proven his talent time and time again, with a soulful, heavy gravel that feels decades beyond his lifespan.

Armed with this unique timbre, Combs delivered a knock-out, drag-down rendition of “Tennessee Whiskey” himself during one of his 2018 performances at the Mother Church of Country Music: The Ryman Auditorium.

Comb’s rendition, however, is a direct cover of Chris Stapleton‘s modern interpretation of the song. That’s right: even Chris Stapleton’s version of “Tennessee Whiskey” is a cover. We’ll give you a moment to recover.

‘Tennessee Whiskey’: Country Classic Predates Chris Stapleton By Decades

Indeed, “Tennessee Whiskey” is a David Allan Coe song from his self-titled album. “Whiskey” originally hit the charts via Coe in 1981, and faired decently. It was two years later, though, courtesy of none other than The Possum himself, that the song would find its sober legs.

Believe it or not, the song was even pitched to George Strait before those two got ahold of it. Strait, however, turned it down. As a result, writer Dean Dillon and Linda Hargrove ran with David Allan Coe. It became the main track of his aforementioned self-titled album, David Allan Coe. While this version would peak at spot #77 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, The Possum – George Jones for those playing the home game – took the song to astronomical heights in 1983. His rendition, the first recorded cover of “Tennessee Whiskey,” skyrocketed all the way to the #2 spot.

From there, the song became an obscure classic, as traditional country fell to the wayside of “popular country” in the 1980s. Traditional country croons like “Whiskey” didn’t have a place among the pop-music-infused country music that was taking the genre mainstream – and like so many brilliant country classics – it became an obscurity.

That is, until Chris Stapleton came along.

But first, give the song a listen in it’s original form, courtesy of George Jones Live at the Grand Ole Opry in 1996. Even The Possum himself acknowledges that this is a song “we quit doin’ a long time ago” with a laugh:

Grand Ole Opry Live 1996


Luke Combs Covers Chris Stapleton’s Incredible ‘Whiskey’ Rendition

Right off the bat, country fans will notice how different Stapleton’s updated cover of “Whiskey” is. Stylistically, it’s a far more bluesy, southern-rock-oriented rendition of what is otherwise a pretty standard country croon.

Taking this in stride is Luke Combs. The young star, one of the hottest voices in the industry, absolutely owns Stapleton’s “Whiskey” – crushing the lyrics into his signature gravel.

As a testament to this new version’s lasting power, Comb’s audience goes absolutely wild when he tells them he’ll be performing it as part of the night’s Ryman concert in 2018 – three years on from Stapleton’s version. Which, by the way, was the first rendition of the song to top Billboard’s charts. All of them, in fact.

Without further ado, let’s give the main event a play with the one and only Luke Combs:

Video recorded by #jonathanpierceband of #lukecombs covering #tennesseewhiskey written by Dean Dillon made famous by David Allen Coe, George Jones, and repopularized by Chris Stapleton.

Jonathan Pierce Band

Hear Chris Stapleton Slay His ‘Whiskey’ in Austin

And just in case you’d like to hear his unbelievable rendition of “Tennessee Whiskey” one last time (which, let’s face it, after all this, you absolutely do, too) – here’s Chris Stapleton leading a brilliant performance at Austin City Limits:

Chris Stapleton – Tennessee Whiskey (Austin City Limits Performance)

Chris Stapleton

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