One morning last fall, Luke Laird was eating breakfast and listening to one of his favorite Apple Music playlists, Honky-Tonk Essentials. When Webb Pierce’s 1953 hit “There Stands the Glass” started playing, Laird had a strange thought. “I was like man, ‘What if I made a beat and sample that?’” he thought to himself. After breakfast, he recorded a crude 13-second voice memo in a Nashville parking lot, in which the hit songwriter (“Pontoon,” “Drink in My Hand”) hummed the melody of Pierce’s chorus while beatboxing a rough sketch of a beat.
That demo would soon become the blueprint for “Hard to Forget,” the new Webb Pierce-sampling song from country singer Sam Hunt, whose album Southside, the long-awaited follow-up to his 2014 debut Montevallo, is due later this spring. The extensive sampling utilized on “Hard to Forget” represents a first of sorts in country music, a natural next step for a commercial genre that has been incorporating hip-hop production for the past decade-plus.