“2016” is a no-frills ballad, and Hunt delivered it simply, accompanied onstage by only his guitar and a handful of silhouetted backing musicians that emerged under muted spotlights as the performance went on.
The singer first showcased “2016” back in February, onstage at the 2020 Country Radio Seminar in Nashville. With the production and instrumental lines dialed down, Hunt lets lyrical heartbreak shine in this song, telling a story of regret and all the things he wishes he could go back and do again in a relationship.
“I’d drive a thousand miles to your house / Walk in like I walked out / Put the tears back in your eyes / ‘Cause all my lies could still come true,” he sings in the pained chorus of the song. “I’d tell you everything was alright / Hold you baby all night / When your heart was all patched up / And our love was good as new / I’d take 2016 / And give it back to you…”
Southside, which came out in April, also includes back-to-back chart-topping singles “Kinfolks” and “Hard to Forget,” as well as Hunt’s current submission to country radio, “Breaking Up Was Easy in the ’90s.”
Over the years, Hunt’s been known to take musical inspiration from his up-and-down relationship with his now-wife, Hannah Lee Fowler. He even singled her out by name in his bare-it-all 2017 heartbreak ballad “Drinkin’ Too Much,” a song that bears some stylistic resemblance to “2016” in addition to its haunting, heartbroken subject matter. Now that the couple have found their happy ending, Hunt says his wife deserves a huge share of the credit for keeping him honest, musically speaking.
“I run everything by her and make sure to get her sign-off,” he revealed to People in September. “I’m not sure that I’m honest to the point that I need to run it by anybody other than my wife. She’s really big on authenticity, so sometimes I can get a little too big for my britches and write songs that are outside of my character. Not only my literal character, but even the character I might be able to pull off in a song. She cares to keep me honest when it comes to that as well, even when she’s not involved in the song.”
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