The Save Me San Francisco
album was the first time Train brought in outside writers. "Hey Soul Sister" is a collaboration between Pat Monahan and the Norwegian songwriting duo Espionage, whose previous writing credits include "Irreplaceable
" for Beyoncé and "With You
" for Chris Brown. After working together on the writing and recording of the track "Brick by Brick," Monahan decided to record another track with Espionage. The Train frontman recalled to The Erie Times
: "I said, 'I want to write an INXS-y song.' So, they started playing kind of an INXS-y song, and I wrote the song 'Hey, Soul Sister' to it and the melodies and started to sing it. And I was like, 'Man, this just doesn't sound great to me.'
One of the guys, Espin, who's like a huge star in Norway, picked up a ukulele, and said, 'Hey, how about this?' I was like, 'Are you (kidding) me?' And it made the difference. It made my words dance. It made sense. These words were meant to dance with ukulele and not guitar." This presented a problem as it meant Train guitarist Jimmy Stafford would have to learn how to play ukulele. Stafford recalled: "At first, I tried to do it by using a guitar pick, and it didn't sound right. I had to go online and Google a ukulele lesson and noticed they're not using picks at all; it's more of a flamenco style. Once I got that down, then it sounded like the real deal."