With the release of his latest song “Doin’ This” prior to his Thanksgiving Day NFL halftime performance, country star Luke Combs poignantly communicates the power of fate amid his rise to extreme success. Per usual, Combs connects with his audience by focusing on the simple and pleasurable things in life — unlike the many artists today shackled by materialism.
Combs unveiled the song in early November on the night of the Country Music Awards. The 31-year-old North Carolinian took home Entertainer of the Year, only further demonstrating his populist appeal to a fanbase hungry for less artifice in a country landscape influenced by superficial pop music. A music video for “Doin’ This” was also released shortly after, and it has more than 2.3 million views as of this writing.
Meaning And Fortune
Combs’ new song centers on what he would be doing if he were not an acclaimed country artist traveling the world. To that simple question, he tells it straight.
He enjoys making music so much that, regardless of his current situation, he says he would still be performing in dive bars, working a low-paying job, and hanging out with his hometown friends. Nostalgia permeates the song, as listeners connect with an artist reminiscing about uncomplicated times — engaging in what he loves and always will.
I’d be drivin’ my first car, an old worn-out Dodge
Tryin’ to make rent with a dead end job, just makin’ do
With tips in a jar, my guitar and an old barstool
I’d have a Friday night crowd in the palm of my hand
Cup of brown liquor, couple buddies in a band
Singin’ them same damn songs like I am now
I’d be feelin’ on fire on a hardwood stage
Bright lights like lightning runnin’ through my veins
At the Grand Ole Opry or a show in some no-name town
Note the difference between how Combs describes his life compared to mainstream pop and hip-hop/rap artists. The singer-songwriter is comfortable with his humble beginnings and does not feel the need to endlessly describe to listeners his immense wealth and prestige. See this song by Drake, this by Lil Nas X, and this by Post Malone and The Weeknd for the opposite messaging.
An artist like Combs is refreshing to the mainstream music world, as he refuses to abide by a celebrity standard steeped in self-aggrandizing acknowledgment of fortune. In “Doin’ This,” Combs relies on the notion of fate to guide his listeners through a story of his life. The story is straightforward. It could be anyone’s.
‘It Ain’t About The Fame’
Here was a working-class man singing in bars and with friends who made it big, and owes his dues to those who made him the man he ended up becoming. Here is an American who serves as a template for other hardworking and talented artists seeking to appeal to a wider audience.
His past life is characterized as equally meaningful as his present one, giving listeners the opportunity to consider the (absolutely true) reality that receiving fame and fortune is not the key to happiness. In fact, Combs directly references this in the song’s bridge. He says, “It Ain’t about the fame, It ain’t about the fortune, It ain’t about the name, It ain’t about the glory.”
The notion of fate, as opposed to the postmodern and nihilistic notion of inexplicable randomness, is a recurring theme in Combs’ music. In “Reasons,” off his 2019 album “What You See Is What You Get,” the artist connects his complicated life to a higher power.
All things that have occurred in his existence — good, bad, confusing — are because “it’s all part of a bigger plan” that “I’ll never understand.” In the bridge of “Refrigerator Door,” he says, “As life flies by, it spills onto the side. Until it’s covered top to bottom with the best days of your life.”
In this sense, “Doin This” piggybacks off other tracks and takes listeners back in time. Combs has previously said “there was never a plan B” for what he wanted to do with his life. The artist worked as a bouncer at a bar below his apartment in college before dropping out, and got his first gig after last call by dropping the mop he was using to clean up. He built a small fan base working at barbecue spots and in nearby towns.
None of this is to speculate that Combs is not incredibly satisfied with his current life. On the contrary, “Doin’ This” seems to indicate he recognizes he is blessed and knows he would be just as blessed should he not have millions in the bank. It’s a good message for Gen Z folks who have been told that being famous is the end goal of life, which is bellowed by so-called “influencers” on Tik Tok, Instagram, and all the others.
Luke Combs has broken through the Nashville snap-track machine by staying true to himself. Should he continue to leave his arrogance at the door, the 31-year-old is only just beginning to make waves in an industry in need of authenticity and good values.