Riley Green ‘Numbers on the Cars’: Breaking Down the Lyrics

by Taylor Cunningham
(Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Rock The South)

Though it was released nearly three years ago, Numbers on the Cars is still one of Riley Green’s most resonating songs to date because it’s more than just a catchy tune. The song is also a real-life story about the singer’s heartbreaking and personal experience with Alzheimer’s disease.

The lyrics tell the story of a day that Green spends with his grandfather, who passed from the disease in 2018, and how he prays that “the old man” could have just one small moment of clarity by revisiting one of their shared passions.

The single is part of Green’s fourth EP, Get That Man a Beer, which dropped on June 14, 2019, and peaked at number 8 on the US Heat.

‘Numbers on the Cars’

  • Best Lines: “I asked the Lord if just one more time he’d bring my old friend back/Then somewhere around lap 23 that old man turned and smiled at me/And for a moment I know he knows where we are.”
  • Release Date: May 24, 2019
  • Written By: Riley Green
  • Produced By: Dann Huff

Riley Green Penned ‘Numbers on the Cars’ For His Grandfather

While most singers get help from a group of songwriters, Riley Green penned Numbers on the Cars entirely by himself since it was written as a way of grieving his late grandfather.

As he shared in a press release shortly after the song debuted, Green grew up near the Talladega Superspeedway, and he used to catch the races with his “Grandaddy” as a kid.

Green was always impressed by the fact that his grandfather knew “every driver’s name, number, and sponsor,” and as Alzheimer’s took over those memories remained, while others completely faded away. But despite the fact that he rarely remembered who Riley Green was, they still had NASCAR.

The track is certain to connect with anyone who has ever watched a loved one suffer from the disease, and Riley Green’s genuine love for his grandfather effortlessly shines through with every word.

As all country fans know, a true artist has the ability to add true personal emotions into their works, and Riley Green does just that with Numbers on the Cars. The song also further proves that there is no topic that he can’t master. From party anthems like Behind the Bar to break-up songs like I Let a Damn Good Woman Leave, the singer truly can do it all.

Riley Green’s ‘Numbers on the Cars’ Lyrics 

Stopped by that house on Nesbitt Lake
He’s sittin’ in his easy chair, watchin’ a Sunday evenin’ race
Tells me my grandma’s in the other room
Guess he forgot we laid her down, it’ll be a year come June
Then he mumbles about Vietnam
He don’t know who the hell I am
But the drivers, well, he tells me who they are
I guess he still knows the numbers on the cars

We try to get him out like we used to
But now I load the truck and I drive the boat
‘Cause there ain’t much he can do, no
Cast him a line and watched it as it sank
Thinkin’ how we’d used to talk for hours
Now he just stares at the bank
He used to know every stump in this fishin’ hole
Though he probably thinks that we’re in Mexico
But he knows his way around that boat, even in the dark
And he still knows the numbers on the cars

I know he ain’t all there but I don’t care
My mind’s still full of memories with him
And he may not know all the words to the songs
But he still knows Merle Haggard’s voice when he hears it

I stopped by that house on Nesbitt Lake
With a couple of tickets to go see a Sunday evenin’ race
As we watched those cars fly around the track
I asked the Lord if just one more time
He’d bring my old friend back
Then somewhere around lap 23
That old man turned and smiled at me
And for a moment I know he knows where we are
‘Cause he still knows the numbers
Yeah, he still knows the numbers
He still knows the numbers, numbers on the cars
Yeah, he still knows the numbers