During this reflective song, Luke Combs offers his perspective of the division across America and the rest of the world at the turn of 2021. Over a banjo-driven melody, in the first verse he compares the disunity to a fire.
Tempers flare, the flame flies higher As we soar closer towards the sun
During the chorus, Combs makes a call for unity:
If we can't reach the other side We gotta find a way across the great divide
Combs is more positive in the second verse, where he notes:
I've seen strangers love each other Like a mother does her son
Combs wrote "The Great Divide" with the bluegrass musician Billy Strings and the country songwriter Wyatt Durrette in June 2020. Combs and Strings laid down the song in Nashville the following January with producer Chip Matthews and released it on February 1, 2021.
"When we wrote it, there were a lot of crazy things going on in the world," said Combs. "There's still a lot of crazy things going on in the world. And I just felt like I had some stuff to say. It's not meant to be political. It's not meant to try and tell you what to think or tell you how to believe. That's not my job. It's just a guy kinda saying the way he was feeling when he wrote it."
Combs added that the song originally slated for an uncompleted bluegrass album, but he decided it release it early. "It's not a lead single or a lead-in to that project yet, because that is not done," he said. "But it felt like the right time to put this song out."
Charlie Worsham contributes acoustic guitar, mandolin and banjo, while Billy Strings provides a banjo solo on the wordless bridge.
The song is one of several recorded by country artists following the Black Lives Matter protests and the divisive 2020 election. Others that attempt to heal the rifts include Garth Brooks' "We Belong to Each Other" and Tim McGraw and Tyler Hubbard's "Undivided."
The Isley Brother's song, "Contagious," peaked at #19 on the Billboard Hot 100. This meant that the band of brothers became the first group to score a Top 50 hit in six consecutive decades on the chart.