Still in the midst of a pandemic and a holiday season filled with more uncertainty than peace on earth, Ben Rector released “The Thanksgiving Song,” off A Ben Rector Christmas Album at the end of 2020. With his first holiday album, Rector took it a step further, adding in a song about one of the most forgotten holidays in music. Now, a year later, Rector is giving New Year’s Eve its moment in the light with “The Best Is Yet To Come.”
“‘The Best Is Yet To Come’ is similar to ‘The Thanksgiving Song’ where I wanted to tap into some sort of nostalgia,” says Rector. “Christmas songs all have such a similar palette, but they’re drawing from a specific well of images and feelings and chords or musical feelings. It’s a very specific bucket of those things, so writing a New Year’s song is interesting because you don’t really have as much of that to tap into.”
He adds, “The only New Year’s song I know is ‘Auld Lang Syne,’ and in a weird way this one almost sounded older than Christmas music. It’s sounded like an old Irish drinking song as it was coming out, which I kind of like.”
Introducing the song at the beginning of December with a lyric video, Rector reworked the New Year’s track with an acoustic version and a more orchestral rendition, backed by a children’s choir. Singing It’s been the kind of year I’d be fine if I forgot / But I’ll never forget it as long as I live and that’s saying a lot / The wildest menagerie of unfortunate crazy things and now it’s all over, “The Best Is Yet To Come” reflects the year behind and keeps close the sentiment that even in all the darkness, there’s always a light in the chorus, So raise up your glass here’s to brand new beginnings / And leave in the past all the things that are ending / Cause tomorrow will bring us a new morning sun / My friends I believe that the best is yet to come.
“I tried to connect to something that felt classic, something that felt like the end of something and the beginning of something else,” says Rector. “There’s not a ton of New Year’s songs, but I wanted it to sound like it was a New Year’s song—one that’s always been around.”
Busy finishing up his upcoming new album for release early 2022, a follow up to seventh release Magic in 2018, Rector says the New Year’s Eve song came from a “wild burst of creativity,” once he finished recording the new album in late 2020, and was written on New Year’s Eve 2020.
“I just thought it’d been a tough year, so I sat down in our house noodling around, and it was one of those rare lightning-strike moments where it just poured out really fast,” shares Rector. “Right after that, I dove back into the record and started writing more. It was a really fruitful season for me.”
Wanting it to sound like a classic, Rector’s New Year’s Eve croon has no relation to the classic standard “The Best Is Yet To Come,” penned in 1959 by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh for Tony Bennett and also recorded by Frank Sinatra.
“I was moved to play something that felt like a classic New Year’s song, so I wanted to have the title I want,” says Rector. “It was 11 pm Year’s Eve, and I probably wanted to be in bed. There was no scheming or thinking ‘I’m gonna write this song, and here’s the title.’ It was one of those rare moments where it began building itself.”
For Rector, 2020 was a year of mixed experiences and emotions. On the one hand, the world was battling a pandemic and other social, political, and environmental issues. That summer, he and his wife welcomed twin boys Roy and Robert.
“I was between the pandemic and having tiny twins, I would not imagine that it would be a really fruitful creative time for me, but it really was,” says Rector. “I don’t know what it was about New Year’s Eve, but last year felt like it did, and the song just came out, so I was glad to be there when that happened.”
Photo: Collin Fatke / Elicity PR