Lyrics Uncovered: Sam Hunt, ‘Take Your Time’
Sam Hunt's "Take Your Time" lyrics have helped bring one of country music's freshest young artists to success at country radio.
The song fuses Hunt's R&B and soul influences with contemporary country to create an edgy track, and its spoken-word rhythmic elements are particularly challenging — in fact, when Hunt and songwriter Josh Osborne first proposed the song, their co-writer just didn't hear it.
"Sam started doing that talking phrasing thing that's happening in the verse, and I thought it sounded really cool," Osborne tells Taste of Country. "And our co-writer, the third writer just kinda laughed and said, 'Aww, naw, that ain't gonna work, that's too odd. I don't think we should chase that.' And when that other writer left the room, I said to Sam, 'I really like that. I think that's cool.' I don't typically write that kind of thing, but Sam's voice sounded so good doing that, I said, 'Hang on to that, let's write that with Shane [McAnally],' 'cause we'd written some songs with Shane at that point."
Once they got together with McAnally, the song flowed naturally.
"They played me that groove and that rhythm, what he was thinking about doing," McAnally recalls. "It might have caught a lot of people off guard, especially nearly three years ago, when we wrote it. But I love anything that catches me off guard, and I love anything weird, and I thought, 'That's the weirdest thing I've ever heard, so yes, I'm in!'"
The "Take Your Time" lyrics came about from a phrase Osborne already had. "I kinda had a title that I had mentioned to Sam before, which was "Take Your Time." When you hear that phrase, it typically means go slow or whatever, but I said if it was a guy saying to a girl, 'I'm not trying to take your friends away from you, I'm not trying to do this ... I just wanna take your time' — almost like a sales pitch, sort of," he recalls. "So Sam said, 'What if these two ideas were just kinda married together?'"
Though the song sounds like it could have been built around a rhythm track, it actually built upward organically from acoustic guitars. Much of McAnally's contribution was in the construction of the track.
"With Sam, songs are always under construction," he explains. "He's always re-writing verses, calling you and trying to make things more real, more him, sound like how he talks. He has a rhythm with the way he speaks that I've never heard. It sounds like singing, and very few people can do it. I don't know anyone else who can do it right now, certainly not in our genre."
The resulting track is very different from anything else that's currently at country radio — so much so, in fact, that it was clear that Hunt would almost have to be the artist who cut it.
I think that was a song that we never, for a second, thought we should pitch it to another artist. That song in particular always felt like a Sam song.
"That was a song we never ended up pitching, because it became a core song of Sam's sound," Osborne says. "That talking thing in the verse, if I tried to play that song in a songwriter's round or something, it would sound ridiculous. I can't do it. He can do it in a way that he's talking, but it still seems very musical and rhythmic, and not everyone can do that. I think that was a song that we never, for a second, thought we should pitch it to another artist. That song in particular always felt like a Sam song."
""Take Your Time" was a real puzzle piece [for the album]," McAnally adds. "When that song was written, it was like, 'Okay, this is a sound. This is what we're looking for. This is how we take what Sam does naturally and create something that will go up against anything at radio, that doesn't sound like anyone on the radio. It's like it's creating its own lane. It's not jarring, it's just really unexpected, and that's a really hard thing to find. I think a lot of artists struggle with defining their lane, something nobody else could do, and I don't think any other artist could do this song."
McAnally produced the demo sessions on the song, and Zach Crowell came in afterward and added his own production elements to complete the recording process. The modified demo is the actual hit single that is currently playing all over country radio.
Such a cutting-edge song could have been a very risky choice for a young artist, but "Take Your Time" has followed "Leave the Night On" to quick success at country radio. Still, there are some traditionalists who decry the track as further proof that contemporary country has gotten too far away from its roots.
"I love traditional country," Osborne says. "It's what I grew upon. I studied traditional country my whole life. I love that music. But everything evolves, and everything changes, and it's so funny to me ... the thing that inflames people is the debate over what is art, and people love to debate what is country, what is not country, what is bro-country. I think any time you're making people talk or making people think, I don't think that's a bad thing."
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