Artists with the true love of country music in their hearts, they don’t make country music for money or fame. They make it for life. They make it because they have no other choice. They make it whether they succeed, or it costs incredible sacrifice to keep doing it. It isn’t an option, it’s an obligation to themselves, and the music.
It’s no wonder Sam Hunt is out there saying he doesn’t give a damn if he releases another song or album anytime soon, or ever. We’d only be so lucky after the abomination “Body Like A Backroad” has made of the country genre. It’s all but a formality that his latest single will be named the longest-running #1 song on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts momentarily. But Hunt never had a passion for country music. That’s why he doesn’t sing it, regardless of how it’s presented on the radio, and in the industry. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves in thinking he’s out of our here for good.
“I don’t want to come off as … I’m not excited about making music or I’m not very hopeful to have new music for the fans who are anxiously awaiting new music, but, you know, I’m in a place in my career and in my life where I’m not willing to give music 100 percent of me anymore,” says Sam Hunt in a recent interview with The Boot. “I did that for four years, and it was fruitful as far as my career goes, but everything else in my life had to be put on hold, and I’m just not willing to do that for years and years at a time.”
Of course the personal lives of artists should always come first, and Sam Hunt has been in the midst of codifying a committed relationship recently and understandably taking some time for himself. But if you don’t have any passion for the music to begin with, and you’re just releasing songs strictly for commercial appeal, then it’s no surprise you don’t care to get back in the studio and share your creative expressions, especially when you have a license to print money like Sam Hunt now does due to the success of “Body Like A Backroad” and his other monster singles.
Reading between the lines of Sam Hunt’s interview with The Boot, it’s seems a very real possibility that Sam himself may not even like some of the music he’s released, and feels restricted by the commercial sound.
“My inspiration and the type of songs that I want to write don’t necessarily all aim in that [commercial] direction,” Hunt says. “So, now that I’ve established myself and am in the position that I’m in now, going forward, I’d like to explore writing songs that probably won’t be as commercially viable as some of the songs that I’ve written in the past.”
Even when he talks about his passion for music, it seems more about not undercutting his career or his label, as opposed to extending a true passion for the artform.
“Music is one of many passions that I have in my life, and it has provided so much for me, and provided for my family, and it’s created a business out here on the road, with employees who are also providing for their families, and I’m so grateful for that, but, you know, going forward, I’m not necessarily going to try to keep pushing, pushing, pushing to see how big I can get or make it or go with it.”
Similar to Chase Rice, Colt Ford, and others, Sam Hunt first tried to make it in professional sports, flunking out of the training camp for the Kansas City Chiefs before deciding to give songwriting a shot to quote/unquote “kill time.” Country music wasn’t their first passion, being famous and making lots of money was, regardless of the discipline.
“It wasn’t my dream to be a writer, an artist, for life,” Sam Hunt says, while most any country music artists you speak to without a major label deal would tell you the exact opposite.
It’s potentially a positive development for country music if Sam Hunt is done with the commercial era of his career, and future songs similar to “Leave The Night On” and “Body Like A Backroad” won’t be infecting the airwaves. But as long as Music Row continues to push artists with no true passion for country music, there will be plenty of copycats to rise up and take his place.