Sam Hunt started out as a star football player at Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. After college he was briefly signed as a free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs before deciding to concentrate on a music career after co-penning Kenny Chesney's "Come Over
," Billy Currington's "We Are Tonight
" and Keith Urban's "Cop Car
This song is the first single from Hunt's debut album after signing with MCA Universe in January 2014. "'Leave the Night On' is a song that sort of represents the album as a whole," he said. "I feel like it captures all of the elements in one song. As far as a song that could represent what the whole album is about, I think that's just a good choice."
The song made it into the history books by entering the Country Aircheck chart at No #36, the highest ever entry for a new artist on the tally.
The song's music video finds Hunt playing a fun-loving taxi driver. The singer also helped direct the clip alongside actor and cinematographer Brad Belander.
Montevallo is the name of a small town just south of Birmingham, Alabama. Hunt explained why he named his debut album after the little-known place. "I had never spent any time there, but went to school for several years in Birmingham and met a girl from Montevallo just as I was leaving to head to Nashville," he said. "Over the course of the next several years as I was on this journey musically, figuring out the songwriting thing and doing all the things that led up to this moment, I was writing songs that were inspired by the experiences I was living, and the girl from Montevallo had a lot to do with that and a lot of influence came from her and came from experiences in that town, came from other people in that town."
"It's just a word that when I see it or when I hear someone else say it, it has a whole new emotion attached to it, than when I first left Birmingham," Hunt added, "and that's the same emotion that I get when I read the track listing on the record."
Sam Hunt penned the tune with Josh Osborne and Shane McAnally in early 2013. "It was kind of an unassuming song," he told Billboard magazine. "I was excited because we wrote a cool song at the time and it stuck around as I continued to write more songs and started to work on an album."
"And then when I went into record the songs my producer Zach Crowell really took it to another place with the production," Hunt continued. "He spent a lot of time on it and we continued to build it as we went. The final product just turned out really cool. When we put it beside the rest of the songs for the record it just stood out as a good song that could really be a good introduction and also a good first single as far as being up tempo and covering a lot of the different elements that will be on the record in one song."
So what's happening in this song? Sam Hunt explained: "It's a song about a guy who's with a girl, and they've had a good evening and they're creeping up on the normal time to go separate ways, but neither of them want to end the night yet. So, they continue their adventure on into the late hours of the night."
This song climbed to the top of the country chart on November 15, 2014. Hunt's Montevallo
album bowed at #1 on Top Country Albums the same week. In doing so, the singer became just the second solo male to reach the summit of both lists with a debut release in the SoundScan-era (since 1991). Billy Ray Cyrus previously ruled the country chart with his debut single "Achy Breaky Heart
" and Top Country Albums with his rookie long player Some Gave All
on June 6, 1992.
Hunt is the one who came up with the line "leave the night on without me." When he told Shane McAnally about it, McAnally replied, "I can't believe you would offer that hook to somebody else." He told Rolling Stone Country: "I was being funny but I was mad. He said, 'No, no I haven't written it; I just have an idea.' And I was like, 'Oh my God, thank you because I think that's the best lyric I've ever heard.' So we got with Josh Osborne and that was just a typical writing day. We were hashing it out and trying to find the phrasing and it went through some different phases, but that song is pretty close to the way it was written the day we wrote it."