Lyrics Uncovered: Sam Hunt, ‘Body Like a Back Road’
Hunt has said that he wrote the song after he got engaged to Hannah Lee Fowler, whom he married on April 15 in his home state of Georgia. Josh Osborne — who wrote the song with Hunt, Shane McAnally and Zach Crowell — tells Taste of Country that when Hunt brought up the idea he had for the title, his collaborators immediately recognized its potential.
Though fans didn’t know about Hunt’s engagement until January of 2017, Osborne says they began working on the song in November of 2016 during a trip to Charleston, where they were hoping to work without the distractions of being in Nashville.
“As a songwriter, when an artist comes in the door and says that title, you’re like, ‘Uh, yeah … let’s write that!’ Osborne says with a laugh. A lot of the prep work for the song came in trying to find the right musical form to express the fun, loose feel they were hoping to capture, and Crowell had a track started that had just what they were looking for.
Hunt is legendary in Nashville songwriting circles for his meticulous writing ethic, usually working on any given song over the course of several different co-writing sessions before he is satisfied with the completed song. Despite the apparent simplicity of the “Body Like a Back Road” lyrics and music, Osborne says Hunt made an important last-minute change to the song that ultimately made it strong enough to be his new single.
“We thought it was finished, and Sam called us up one day and said, ‘Hey, I think we need to get together one more time and look at it,'” Osborne relates. In listening to the song, Hunt felt like the verses were too fleshed out for the simplicity of the chorus hook, which is immediately accessible to listeners.
"As a songwriter, when an artist comes in the door and says that title, you’re like, ‘Uh, yeah … let’s write that!’"
“It’s a typical thing that songwriters fall into … we had over-written the verses. They were all road references, and hooking this to this, and when you have a chorus as simple as that, the writer part of your brain is trying to over-compensate for it,” he explains. Once they realized it, the writers refashioned the verses, using bits and pieces of what they had, but pulling the “Body Like a Back Road” lyrics back to the bare minimum needed to convey the fun of the tune, without too much explanation.
The resulting song has such an instantly timeless feel that it seems familiar even though it’s not a lift from anywhere else. Hunt delivers the lyrics in the inimitable style that he pioneered at country radio, sounding almost as if he’s simply made them up as he sings them, so effortlessly do the words follow one another.
“Body like a back road, drivin’ with my eyes closed / I know every curve like the back of my hand / Doin’ 15 in a 30, I ain’t in no hurry / I’mma take it slow just as fast as I can,” the chorus states.
Crowell produced the track, meaning the master recording sounds much like the demo, even borrowing from some of the guitar parts Osborne made up while they were writing it. After living with the song for a while, Hunt told his co-writers it was going to be his new single just weeks before he released it in February. He performed it at the ACM Awards, and it has become a lightning-fast hit, reaching No. 1 in April. It’s not only the first single from Hunt’s hugely anticipated sophomore album — he also named his upcoming 15 in a 30 Tour from a line in the song.
Despite all the changes in Hunt’s life since they worked together on songs for his smash debut album, Montevallo, and all that he has going on with new music and a new marriage, Osborne says Hunt has remained remarkably down to earth in the eye of the storm.
“He is the same guy. He is more concerned with writing the song, making sure it’s right,” he shares. “The only thing that has changed is, he just has no time now. We wrote on the songs for Montevallo for, we wrote as a team probably … I wrote with Sam four or five times a month for two years. I think now it’s just a time crunch. He has the same work ethic, but he doesn’t always have the time to sit down, and I think that’s sometimes difficult for him, because at his heart, his favorite thing is writing songs.”
Osborne admires Hunt’s ability to remain unchanged.
“I feel like he has been put into a blender and just spun around a million miles an hour, and he’s basically come out the other side of it the same person. He hasn’t changed any, but the world around him has changed a lot.”
Hunt has not yet announced his album, but now that “Body Like a Back Road” has reached No. 1, a new single will likely soon follow. Osborne has written a number of other songs that could make the album but says the status of those songs is unknown.
“Like most of my life, I just kind of hold on for dear life and hope for the best,” he jokes. “I’m just like everyone else, I’m excited to hear the whole thing once it’s put together.”
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