Lyrics Uncovered: Old Dominion, ‘Snapback’
Old Dominion's "Snapback" lyrics were inspired by the fans who come to their live shows.
"That was a title that I had written down, and I'm not usually one to write down a lot of titles," lead singer Matt Ramsey tells Taste of Country from the band's tour bus as they're rolling down the road in a long drive from Nashville to Oregon.
"That's typically not how I work. But it was just a word that I had been hearing around. When people started calling hooded sweatshirts 'hoodies,' I was like, 'What? What's a hoodie?'" he adds with a laugh. "It's a hooded sweatshirt. And the same thing with snapbacks ... I just kept hearing that word a lot, and it seemed like people were showing up in our shows a lot in snapbacks. It just seemed like a cool, funky word that's fun to say, so I wrote it down."
Ramsey had no idea what the song would be about, until one day the band were in the middle of nowhere on a road trip. Brad Tursi had a laptop with him, and he started building a beat and a basic track before inviting Ramsey and Trevor Rosen to participate.
"It was really cool; it sounded really neat," Ramsey recalls. "It kind of fit the title that I had. It felt young and fresh, so I said, 'I've got this title, 'Snapback' ... I don't know what it means, but maybe it's about a girl and she's wearing a snapback or something.'"
It was a tricky proposition to craft an entire song around that idea.
"I don't really want to write a whole song around a hat," Ramsey says, laughing. "It has to be about the girl. So Trevor was listening, and he said, 'Strictly out of curiosity, what would happen if you change this part to this part?' And when he said that for some reason I just thought, 'Strictly out of curiosity / What would happen if you got with me?'" he recalls. "We were all laughing, but it was what we needed to get us going."
I get why some people don't think we're country. It's understandable. We don't care ... For people that don't think we are ... we understand that, and they don't have to listen to it.
From there, the songwriting session happened very quickly, with the music and "Snapback" lyrics written in an hour and a half. Since they've had success both with outside songs and songs for the band, they weren't necessarily directing their efforts toward one or the other.
"All of us kind of came to that point where we said, 'You know what? Chasing an artist or chasing a sound is wrong. We need to do what we do, and that's when we get the most attention," Ramsey admits. "Whenever we sit down to write, we're not thinking, 'Is this an Old Dominion song, or is this a Kenny Chesney song?' We're just trying to write the best song we possibly can."
All three chipped in equally on the "Snapback" lyrics, melody and arrangement. The finished "Snapback" lyrics are fun and upbeat: “Those stars need to be wished on / Your skin needs to be kissed on / My eyes, baby, they’re fixed on you and your snapback / T-shirt of your favorite rock band / Checking your makeup in my Ray-Bans / Breaking hearts like only you can / In your snapback,” Ramsey and the others sing at the chorus.
The song's progressive sound attracts some fans, and alienates others, as Ramsey readily acknowledges. "It's really just, that's what we do," he says. "I get why some people don't think we're country. It's understandable. We don't care ... we love country music, and it's a big part of what I grew up listening to and what Trevor grew up listening to. It's definitely in us. We listen to a lot of things, and it all bleeds into what we write and do. We're lucky to have country radio consider it country, because sometimes we don't feel like it's country. But music changes, and country music is a big part of what we do, and we're happy to be included in it. For people that don't think we are ... we understand that, and they don't have to listen to it."
They knew "Snapback" was a single early on, he says. "If you're in Nashville long enough, you're always trying to write the single," Ramsey points out with a laugh. "That's what our goal was with this entire album, was to stack it as much as we could, to the point where we'd be happy with any of the songs as singles."
They've been pleasantly surprised by the result.
"It's always a guess whether not it's gonna connect. We hoped it would, and we never expected it to move like it has. It went up the charts so fast, and we're so grateful to radio for playing it as much as they are," he states. "We open our shows with that song, and the whole crowd is singing those, 'Whoa, whoa whoas.' It's a great way for us to start the show."