By Annie Reuter
Country music is well known for its storytelling. Keith Urban‘s “Cop Car” exemplifies this point. Written by Sam Hunt, Zack Crowell and Matt Jenkins, the ACM Award-nominated song hit Urban the moment he heard it.
“It’s very hard to find new ways to serve love songs. They’ve all been done, you know? We’ve heard them all,” Urban said in an interview. “But never have I heard the song written from the point of view of a guy who’s in the back of a cop car with handcuffs on, watching a girl go completely redneck crazy at the cops. And he’s like, ‘I am getting so turned on right now.’ So, I love that song.”
Hunt, who put the song on his debut album Montevallo last year, was at producer Crowell’s house when the song began to take shape.
“Zach Crowell had this track that he was playing,” Hunt recalls. “The guitars were on there and the drum beat. It was very pretty, and I got into the vocal booth to freestyle, sing, make up melodies and lyrics. What naturally came out lyrically was lovey-dovey and a little too romantic. When the lyric and the music were pretty, I felt like it was too much. So I thought, ‘How can I put a little tough edge to this track?'”
Hunt then remembered an experience he had a few years prior while in college that involved sneaking into an airport.
“I got into a little bit of trouble at an airport after sneaking in and watching these airplanes fly over and land,” he remembers with a smile. “It was entertaining and in a little area in Alabama, where there wasn’t a lot to do when I was in college.”
Hunt threw the concept out there to Crowell and Jenkins and they began working on the lyrics to form what is now known as “Cop Car.” He admits, though, that they were initially hesitant about the song’s topic.
“It was such a radical concept that, at first, we didn’t know if it was too far out there or if it could work as an idea for a song,” he recalls. “As we kept chipping away at it, it just naturally came about, and it just felt right. It was a cool story song. I have had other story songs but that was one that was special and inspired by some true events.”
The first line that came to Hunt was “I fell in love in the back of a cop car”; the lyric “there was something about the way the blue lights were shining bringing out the freedom in your eyes” quickly came after.
“At that point, we felt like there was enough there. We felt like it was worth going after.”
“Cop Car” is nominated as Video of the Year at the 50th annual Academy of Country Music Awards.
The 50th annual ACM Awards air Sunday, April 19 at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.