“It Made Me Wanna Cry When I Wrote It” — Riley Green’s Stunning New Song “Jesus Saves” Is Sad Country Music At Its Best

Riley Green country music
Courtesy of Riley Green

Sad country songs make me so incredibly happy.

And this is the best one I’ve heard in a long time… Riley Green released his Way Out Here EP this past Friday, which features his previously-released cover of Josh Thompson’s “Way Out Here,” a steamy new one called “Worst Way,” and even a revamped cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City.”

But the easy standout in my very humble opinion is “Jesus Saves,” which is a solo write by Riley that tells the story of an Army veteran who has lived a complex, and at times pretty sad, life that’s led to him him being homeless and “covered in dirt like the world had beat him down.”

I think it shows off an incredible new depth and complexity to Riley’s writing, similar to what we heard on “Numbers On Cars” which was also a solo write from his breakout 2017 Outlaws Like Us EP. But this song takes it a step further, as Riley details this man’s entire life and how, ultimately, there’s always so much more to someone than meets the eye, no matter what their situation is from the outside looking in.

My favorite verse comes when Riley talks about the man’s brother being his hero, who ultimately lost his life due to alcoholism. He tries to move on, and when his (now ex) wife finally gets pregnant (after a lot of trying) with a little boy named after his brother, Walter, she ultimately has a miscarriage and little Walter doesn’t make it… and neither does the marriage:

My brother Walter was my hero
But he was bad to drink
One night, he laid his Harley down
Near that Ohio Riverbank
Me and my first wife tried for kids when we were datin’
Hell, we even had baby names picked out
But little Walter didn’t make it

It’s hard to see all that just drivin’ by
So I just write down, “Jesus Saves”
‘Cause there ain’t no way I can fit that on a sign
I can’t fit all that on a sign”

I’m telling you, it’s sad but it’s so damn good.

And we actually caught up with Riley at his inaugural Duckman Jam festival at the Flora-Bama this weekend (yes, I’m still recovering), where he told us a little more about the song and personal meaning behind it. He explained that the real message is that you never know what somebody’s been through, and it actually “made me wanna cry when I wrote it”:

“I mean, I wrote the song from something that I saw, you know. I thought it was a good message, you never know what somebody’s been through and I’m kind of quick judge, especially people in certain situations.

I know that it made me wanna cry when I wrote and played it back to myself. And I think that’s something I’m always drawn to, is songs that make you feel some kind of emotion.”

I love the honesty, because I’ve teared up more than once listening to it too:

And as sad and heart-wrenching as it is, there’s a bit of hope in there too knowing that the man at least has faith and redemption in something more than himself and considers putting “Jesus Saves” on his sign enough of a message for people driving by.

Aside from “The Architect” from Kacey Musgraves’ new Deeper Well album, I haven’t had another song stop me in my tracks like this one has yet and I know it’s going to continue to be a fan-favorite for years to come. There’s just somethin’ about a Riley Green solo write (“I Wish Grandpas Never Died” also comes to mind), and the richness of his writing is so apparent here in a very striking and heartfelt way.

I think Riley has really evolved over the years in terms of his writing, while staying true to his perfectly country sound that so many people love and is clearly very popular right now too. “Jesus Saves” is country music at it’s best and one of the best singles released this year, so do yourself a favor and check it out:

“Jesus Saves”

And for a little bit of fun after you’re done crying to “Jesus Saves,” “Good Morning From Mexico” is a total jam and I’m gonna have it blasting all summer long:

Way Out Here tracklist:

1. “Jesus Saves” (Riley Green)
2. “Way Out Here” (Casey Beathard, David Lee Murphy, Josh Thompson)
3. “Atlantic City” (Bruce Springsteen)
4. “Good Morning from Mexico” (Riley Green)
5. “Damn Good Day to Leave” (Riley Green, Erik Dylan, Jonathan Singleton, Nick Walsh)
6. “Pick a Place” (Riley Green, Erik Dylan)
7. “Worst Way” (Riley Green)

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock