Known for his country songs and controversies, Morgan Wallen proved he has an ear for a hit song when he cut “Whiskey Glasses.” Staying in tune with many of his other songs that reference alcohol, Wallen took the track that uses whiskey as a numbing source after a breakup to No. 1 in 2019, becoming one of his signature songs. Here, we explore the meaning behind the lyrics of “Whiskey Glasses.”
Meaning Behind The Lyrics
“Whiskey Glasses” was co-written by Kevin Kadish and Ben Burgess in 2015, but it took four years for it to get to the top of the charts. Burgess pitched the idea of writing a song about whiskey glasses to his writing partner, but it was Kadish who came up with the first lines of the chorus, Imma need some whiskey glasses / ‘Cause I don’t wanna see the truth. From there, the writers spun it into the concept of drinking away a painful breakup, seeing the world “through whiskey glasses.” The song’s opening line pour me / pour me another drink was inspired by Burgess’ father, who used to ask a young Burgess to “pour your Pappy a drink” after he’d consumed too much alcohol.
In an interview with Genius, Wallen describes whiskey as “good for a heartache.” “I think we’ve all been there in that situation. We’ve all been through something and we didn’t really…for that moment we decided we didn’t want to feel it,” he explains. “I thought that song was a great representation of that feeling.”
Wallen says he was drawn to the “double entendre” of the first verse that compares whiskey to the only medicine that can numb the intense pain of heartache. I just wanna sip ’til the pain wears off and two more let’s go / ’cause I ain’t never hurt like this before, he sings.
Describing it as a “heartbreak song,” Wallen acknowledges the “sad lyrics” that ironically don’t “necessarily feel that way.” “It’s just like whatever y’all had that fired y’all up together, it just burned out,” he describes of the nature of the pre-chorus, while praising the mental imagery evoked by some of the lines in the chorus, she’s probably making out / On the couch right now / With someone new. “She’s gone and she don’t look like she’s really thinking about coming back,” he responds. “If you hear ‘whiskey glasses,’ you immediately think glasses you drink out of and this one is a different kind, so it’s cool.”
I’ma need some whiskey glasses
‘Cause I don’t wanna see the truth
She’s probably making out on the couch right now
With someone new
Yeah, I’ma need some whiskey glasses
If I’m gonna make it through
If I’ma be single
I’ma need a double shot of that heartbreak proof
And see the world through whiskey glasses
(Ain’t nothing else to do, but sip around the truth)
And see the world through whiskey glasses
(I need a better view, where I don’t drink to you)
The singer adds that the bridge that reprises the lines line ’em up, knock ’em back, and fill ’em up four times apiece makes him think of his friends back home in East Tennessee who’ve supported him in tough times. “I think friends are really important during a time like that,” he says. “I think that’s a very community-type bridge on that song. It just reminds me of my friends.”
The Success of “Whiskey Glasses”
Originally published on Wallen’s 2016 EP, The Way I Talk, “Whiskey Glasses” was later included on his debut album, If I Know Me where it was released as the third single in 2018. It took a year for the song to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart in June 2019, becoming his second No. 1 hit. It’s since been certified three times platinum by the RIAA for sales of more than three million copies.
“It’s honestly surreal,” Burgess told Advocate about the song’s origin and success in a 2020 interview. “It’s one of those heartbreak hitters. You had to have your heart broken, and I’ve had my fair share. When it was released, it was struggling. When Mogan [Wallen] first played it, there was like one guy jamming to the song. I was like, ‘dude, you’re my hope right now.’ It just didn’t stop after that. Hopefully it’ll be around forever.”
The success of “Whiskey Glasses” preceded some of Wallen’s controversies. In February 2021, Wallen was caught on video using the N-word. In the aftermath, he was temporarily suspended from his record label and his music was removed from radio playlists. He was barred from attending awards shows including the CMA Awards and ACM Awards. Despite the controversy, Wallen’s double album, Dangerous, surged in popularity, sitting at No. 1 on both the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and all-genre Billboard 200 for multiple weeks. Dangerous was also named Album of the Year at the 2022 ACM Awards.
Photo by John Shearer / EBMedia