The song was written by Jeffrey Steele ("The Cowboy in Me
," "I'm Tryin'
," "What Hurts The Most
"), Tom Douglas ("The House That Built Me
," "Southern Voice
," "I Run To You
") and Jaren Johnston ("Don't It
," "You Gonna Fly
"). Other collaborations between the trio include Tim McGraw's Meanwhile Back At Mama's
Jaren Johnston already had the title and some of its imagery in mind when the trio got together for a songwriting session. "I had raise 'em up like this or raise 'em up like that saved in my phone, and I'd been wanting to write it," he told Taste of Country
. "I had Jeffrey and Tom coming over, and I wanted to write something smarter than just trucks and all that kind of stuff. So I knew it was gonna be a good idea to bring that title in with Tom, because he's just incredibly crafty. He's very good at taking a song in a way that you normally wouldn't think it was gonna go."
Douglas immediately saw where he was going. "He just jumped into that, 'Black umbrellas in the pouring rain …,' that Townes Van Zandt approach," Johnston recalled. "So that was originally gonna be the only chorus, and I said, 'Man, this is really cool but this song's bigger than that chorus.' You hear that chorus first, it makes it kind of a sad song more than an uplifting one, so we wrote that 'White sails down in Mexico …' to kind of give it more of an uplifting vibe."
"We literally poured that song out in an hour and a half," he continued. "The guys left, and we didn't have the bridge part yet. We just had the two verses and the two choruses, and I sat there as I was doing a little work tape, and I was like, 'S—, man, this needs to go somewhere else.' And I just kinda freestyled that whole thing, 'Raise 'em up trophy high …' I just started singing over that, and I called them both and said, 'This thing just went to a whole new level.'"