"I think right now a lot of people can use this," Chris Young tells PEOPLE exclusively of his new single "If That Ain't God"

By Brianne Tracy
July 02, 2020 11:00 AM
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Between the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and nationwide uprising against police brutality, Chris Young knows people could use a message of hope right now.

That's why the country star, 35, is particularly excited to release his powerful new single, "If That Ain't God," on Friday.

"It's such a special song," Young tells PEOPLE exclusively. "I think right now a lot of people can use this. It's just a positive, uplifting message. It's talking about some of the things in life that you take for granted, whether it's little stuff or big stuff, and you look around and you're like, 'Man, if that ain't God, I don't know what it is.' I was jealous that I had never thought of that title on my own before, because it's just a brilliantly written song. [Writers Matt Roy, Mitchell Oglesby and Greylan James] allowing me to be a part of it and put my own spin on it meant the world to me."

In the first verse of the song, Young sings, "I ain't never thought much of getting up/Or the climb down the stairs to my coffee cup/Or the good morning news in the background/'Til I heard somebody on it talking 'bout/The kid from my town, only 8 or 9/Who took a punch from cancer, but he won that fight/He had his first home run first time at the plate/Then he pointed to the sky, and it made me think."

"If that ain't God/If that ain't Him/If that ain't the man upstairs somewhere looking down on us again/Don't it make you want to pray?/Don’t it make you want to live?/If that ain’t God/If that ain’t God/I don't know what is," he then sings in the chorus.

That first verse of the song really hit home for Young, whose own father was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009.

"The first verse of the song talks about walking down, getting a cup of coffee and seeing a good story on the news about somebody beating cancer," he says. "And I've experienced that in my family with my dad. [He] lost a part of one of his lungs and came back and you'd never know if you saw him today that he went through all that. I'm still lucky to have my dad around ... and not taking it for granted."

Chris Young
Matthew Berinato

Since the beginning of his career, Young has tapped into his faith in his music. Even though it's something he doesn't talk about as much, he says faith is "the very first point of reference" for him as an artist.

"I grew up singing in church, and my grandfather was an elder in the church that I used to go to," he says. "Somebody would go up with a pitch pipe and they would blow a note on a pitch pipe and everybody would sing in [an] eight-part harmony. So that was something that I picked up on really early on."

Young says his father and family have all listened to "If That Ain't God" already and are "normally the first line of defense" for any new songs he's working on.

"When I get something done, I send it to them and I'm like, 'Yes? No? What do you think?'" he says. "My family is very close, so they are very blunt. This one everybody really got into."

His second line of defense are his fans, and like he did with "If That Ain't God," he'll tease new songs for them to listen to on his social media accounts.

"It doesn't matter if I love it," he says. "As far as making something a single, you really want everybody else to be just as excited about it as you are. It was really cool seeing the level of response that I got from people [about 'If That Ain't God']. So being able to put it out there and make it the new single off the record and have something they haven't heard yet is pretty awesome."

Young says "If That Ain't God" is just a taste of what's to come on his forthcoming eighth studio album, which he has been hard at work on in self-isolation.

"'If That Ain't God' is not the only new thing that I've added to my record," he says. "I've had records before that are 10 tracks, I've had some that are 11, maybe 12. This one's going to be more than that. So that's the one good thing. I know a lot of people have been waiting on this record. We've already had two singles off of it and haven't put the album out and it's driving everybody nuts because I keep teasing it. So I'm sorry about that, but it's going to be worth it."

Chris Young "If That Ain't God" cover art

Of his yet-to-be-released new songs, Young says he's most excited for fans to hear one titled "Tonight We're Dancing" that he wrote with a couple of friends.

"It's just a really, really cool song and a really different vibe," he says. "Really steel-heavy and just something I fell into with them. We were writing it, and I was like, 'Man, I think this is going to go on the album.'"

In addition to writing new music in quarantine, Young has been spending quality time with his puppy, Porter, and working on his skills in the kitchen.

"I posted a photo of this steak that was medium-rare — perfectly cooked the way that I wanted it — and there were so many people in my comment section, like, 'It's not done put it back into the oven,'" he says with a laugh. "I was like, 'It's supposed to look like that, I promise!"

Earlier this month, he also took the time to speak out on social media about George Floyd's death.

"This is something that we have to talk about," he says. "It has to become a conversation, and it's not something we should be scared to dive into. I think my statements speak for themselves, but it's one of those things where this is not something that should just be brushed aside or ignored, and I wanted to make a statement about that."

With the release of "If That Ain't God" drawing near, Young is reminded of his own career journey and how far he has come from where he started.

"I'm really lucky that as of this year I've been on RCA for 14 years," he says. "It's just wild to think about that. I'm never going to forget the first time I heard [my] song on the radio. So anytime you put out a new single it's a big deal. I've been so incredibly lucky and so incredibly blessed by so many things that have happened in my career. And being able to have a song like this that's definitely a weighty message, a heavy message, but a positive one is awesome."