For the first three years of his country music career, Sam Hunt released a continuous stream of hits, all of which boast multi-Platinum certifications. However, none of his hit singles would compare to "Body Like a Back Road," released in 2017 on MCA Nashville. In this country-pop tune that showcases Hunt's signature "talk-singing" style, the Georgia-born artist employs clever word play to describe his love interest.
"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'ma take it slow just as fast as I can," he sings in the chorus.
The song was co-written by Hunt along with Nashville songwriters and wordsmiths Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne and Zach Crowell. Although the song sounds simple, it took more than a year of writing and rewriting to achieve that conversational feel. McAnally and Osborne told The Tennessean that the title came from Hunt, and they began writing the tune on a trip to Charleston. From there, Hunt would take the song and change things and then bring it back to the writers to continue writing. This process repeated many times before they got it right.
"Sam is not a normal co-write -- everything is always different," says McAnally. "You always know whatever you're working on has movable parts. You cannot get too precious or attached to anything, because if he's gonna record it, it ultimately has to go through so many filters. I mean, it's almost like sifting, and him just taking out the parts that don't feel right. And so (our) job in that room is to give him as many options, as many colors, as many different roads to go down...we've joked about this, but I would say in reality, there were probably sixteen verses written."
Hunt was even changing lyrics right before the song was sent to radio, and specifically, he wrote the lyric about asking for the girl's number ("Had to get her number, took me like six weeks") about a month before it was sent out. Both McAnally and Osborne agree that the change helped the song achieve the conversational vibe that made it so successful.
"I think that's why that song is felt more than heard," says Osborne. "I think people just feel good when they hear it."
"Body Like a Back Road" not only become a hit, but it became a record-breaking hit. It spent a total of 34 weeks atop the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart, beating out Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise," which previously held the record. The song was knocked out of the No. 1 position by Kane Brown and Lauren Alaina's "What Ifs" and the record of 34 weeks was eventually surpassed by Florida Georgia Line and Bebe Rexha's "Meant To Be." The song also became a crossover hit in pop music, landing at No. 6 on the Top 40 chart and No. 15 on the Adult Contemporary chart. "Body Like a Back Road" broke another record by landing at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, again beating Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise" and becoming the highest-charting country song on that chart. The song has since been certified 8x Platinum.
"Body Like a Back Road" is undoubtedly the biggest hit of Hunt's career so far and is right at home alongside some of his other best songs, including "Take Your Time" and "Make You Miss Me" from his Montevallo album, as well as "Hard To Forget" and "Breaking Up Was Easy In The 90's" from Southside.