Hit songwriter Shane McAnally has started a new Instagram series titled “Behind The Hit,” in which he dives into the stories behind the songs he’s co-written with the artists who recorded them. On the first episode, McAnally talked with Sam Hunt about the process of creating Hunt’s current single “Hard To Forget,” written by Hunt, McAnally, Josh Osborne, Luke Laird and Ashley Gorley.
The two remembered that when they originally started writing what would become “Hard To Forget,” they focused on a “more serious” version of the concept, according to McAnally. While that original song eventually fell to the wayside, the “Hard To Forget” hook survived and became the song heard on Hunt’s Southside album.
The track is unique in that it begins with a sample of Webb Pierce’s 1953 song, “There Stands the Glass,” which was an idea brought to Hunt by Laird.
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Sam just keeps raising the bar and surprising us all by never resting on his past successes. He is determined to make every song the very best it can be by chiseling away at every line and melody until it feels like it’s always been there. Here's how “Hard To Forget” made it from a one line hook to taking over the radio. Written with @samhuntmusic, @joshosbornesongwriter, @lukerobert & #AshleyGorley
“He plays it and immediately I was like, ‘Okay, we’ve got to scrap what we’re doing. We’ve got to work on this track,’” says Hunt. “We’ve talked about finding a way to sample an old country song before. To me, this hit me as the perfect song to sample, and I had not thought to go all the way back to the ‘50s to find a song like this Webb Pierce song.”
Hunt says it took a while to figure out how to incorporate the sample into a song, but they then paired it with the original “Hard To Forget” hook, brought it back to McAnally, and put it all together. All the songwriters then went into the studio to track the song, and they realized they had something special.
“We were all through the roof,” says McAnally. “We were like, ‘This is magic.’”
While the song’s production features some modern elements, the foundation of the song, especially with the addition of the Webb Pierce sample, leans more toward traditional country.
“You, Josh and I, and I know Ashley and Luke, are such fans of traditional country music, but we rarely write a bone country song,” says Hunt to McAnally. “And even though a lot of people may feel like this walks that line between pop and country, you strip it down and just play it on guitar or if you were to hear it the way we wrote it on guitar, it’s absolutely a throwback country song.”
“Hard To Forget” appears on Hunt’s new album, Southside, which was released on April 3rd. Learn more about the record from Sam himself in our new Cover Story.