Written by Cole Swindell with Michael Carter and Brandon Kinney, this uptempo breakup song is a story of regret and missed opportunity.
I'm dying here tonight
Staring goodbye in the face
Saying I love you too late
The singer has learned the hard way that sometimes you've got to say those words that you're scared to say. Unfortunately, he didn't tell his romantic interest he loved her until it was too late.
Swindell explained to ABC Radio
the song is about knowing that he loved the girl and that he's telling her that when it's too late and she's not there anymore.
He added that he can picture the girl "out there on the highway," having forgotten about him and not picking up his phone calls. "That's a rough feeling knowing that you say I love you too late," he said.
Cole Swindell considers this to be the most up tempo song he's recorded to date. He said it sounds like it's an 1980s rocker "just screaming tempo. It's rockin'."
Cole Swindell performed the song live on November 4, 2018 during "Country Night" on ABC's Dancing with the Stars.
The Sam Siske-directed music video portrays an ex-girlfriend getting away from Swindell as he performs the song standing in the middle of the road and inside an abandoned tunnel. Actress and stuntwoman Kachina Dechert plays Swindell's love interest.
Cole Swindell, Michael Carter and Brandon Kinney set out to write a happy, feel-good tune, starting with the "she's out there rolling down some old interstate" lyric. But as it progressed, Swindell found himself infusing it with some regret, having experienced the emotion of "Love You Too Late" in real life.
"I don't think we had the title," he recalled to ABC News. "It was just 'She's out there rolling.' We got it going, and I think when we got to the end of it, I just remember saying, 'Imagine telling somebody you love them too late [when] it doesn't even matter anymore, you know.' And just like every song I've put out, I've lived this one too."