Ryan Hurd Shares His Best

It's Been an Incredible Year for Singer-Songwriter

With a No. 1 smash for co-writing Blake Shelton and Ashley Monroe’s Grammy-nominated “Lonely Tonight,” a hot after-party spot during CMT on Tour With Brett Eldredge and Thomas Rhett and one of the best debut EPs of the year, Panorama, Ryan Hurd just might be the best thing you haven’t heard … yet.

As one of Nashville’s best-kept secrets, I was dying to know more about him, like maybe hisbest-kept secret and a few more of his “bests,” too, just for fun.

Best-kept secret: “If I told you, it wouldn’t be a secret! Aside from being in music, many people don’t know that in college, I almost went to graduate school and got a sociology degree and didn’t really think about music until pretty recently.” (He’s only been at Universal Music Publishing Group for three and a-half years.)

Best moment from CMT on Tour: “The shows are great. Getting to go see Thomas and Brett and Danielle Bradbery, that’s been so fun. I’ve enjoyed being in those towns. … Just hanging out after the show in really fun downtowns like Dodge City, Kansas, which feels like you’re in the Wild West. I think all that stuff is really exciting for me, like seeing the ocean in Maryland. I’ve never done that before. I’ve never toured before, so getting to see so much of the country in just a few short weeks has been overwhelming a little bit. That’s the thing that took me by surprise, but that’s been super-exciting, too.”

Best song he’s written: “Can I give you two answers? I think ‘Good as You Think I Am’ is the best song I’ve ever written that people have heard (co-written with Maren Morris and Andrew Dorff). As soon as we finished it, I called my publisher and said, ’This is the best song I’ve written all year.’ And I still stand by it. I don’t think I’ve written a better one this year. There’s another song I wrote that was recorded by an artist that never came out called ‘Ready or Not.’ I’ve been playing it at rounds for a long time, and it’s just another love song that’s just a little different. It tells three different stories, and the hook is, ‘We’ll get through it all, ready or not.’ And it’s just about staying in love through tough times.”

Best song he didn’t write: “Have you ever heard ‘Whiskey and You’ by Chris Stapleton? Holy smokes. I remember being at Sea Gayle Music Publishing, which is Brad Paisley’s publisher, because they published that song. I heard Tim McGraw’s version and I heard Chris singing it from Station Inn. I turned all the lights off upstairs in their listening room and listened to that demo three times in a row. That was a while ago. I think that is the best country song ever written.

Best feeling in the world: “Getting a song cut, honestly. When another artist records your song, that is the most validating feeling you can ever have. It feels like you got to the top of the mountain again. To go along with that, hearing your song on the radio for the first time. When I heard ’Payback’ (by Rascal Flatts) on the radio for the first time, I almost crashed my car into the Tiger Mart on Eighth Avenue. I’m not kidding. I had to pull over, and someone beeped at me because I was blocking the air hose and they wanted to use it. They’re honking at me, and I’m crying because this song that meant so much to me is finally on the radio. That’s its own feeling.”

Samantha is a country radio insider with a deep love for the music and its stars. She can often be found on a red carpet or at a late-night guitar pull.