Dierks Bentley: Thomas Rhett Is 'Way Ahead of Where I Am Now'

When Dierks Bentley released his first single, "What Was I Thinkin'" in 2003, Thomas Rhett had just turned 13 years old, and was still a decade away from releasing his first album, It Goes Like This. But even though Bentley got a big head start on Rhett, he still is learning from Rhett, and other young stars like him.

"I learn so much from the generation below me," Bentley shared with PopCulture.com and other media.. "I mean, Thomas Rhett is like 28, and he's married, he's been adopting kids, he's way, way ahead of where I am now. This guy is so mature for his age. A lot of these guys are, and girls are. They're making decisions that are still I feel like in a way, are really mature and brave, and taking chances. Look at [Rhett's] stuff.

"I remember he came on the road with us ... He was right in there with 'Beer With Jesus,' and hat backwards, just kind of in the back pack," he continued. "He was talking about this big musical change he wanted to go for. This thing he was going to try to do. It really was – he's gonna grab the ring or not. He's either going to work or not at all, and he went for it."

Rhett isn't the only artist Bentley is taking notes from. There's a long list of younger stars that the Arizona native is keeping a close eye on, and learning from their decisions.

"Florida Georgia Line, those guys made huge, brave choices," Rhett acknowledged. "Musically and in everything they do. If I wore anything like Tyler [Hubbard] in five seconds, they'd knock me over. He just really just wants to just forge their own path, from the start. It's crazy. So I learn a lot from them just on taking chances, being brave."

Bentley is proud of where country music is heading, taking cues from the past for the music in the future.

"Country music is very lifestyle driven these days," Bentley said. "It wasn't always that way. There are a lot of people who look up to Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash. It wasn't just so much about Southern lifestyle back then. Life in general was a much broader range of songs you could write about way back then."

In hindsight, Bentley wishes he had been as brave when he was younger as some of the artists are that are coming behind him.

"Right in that spot and having to be brave and hoping that people could go there and follow you down the forbidden path is something that, it's the path I've been on," Bentley said. "I could certainly look around at my peers and recognize a lot of people that are making brave choices out there."

Bentley just released "Living," his latest single from The Mountain. Download the song on iTunes.

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Photo Credit: Getty images/Keith Griner