Sam Hunt wrote a song about forgiveness after being "locked up," but — believe it or not — he says it's not quite a true story.

The title track of his new EP "may seem autobiographical if you connect the dots," he tells Taste of Country Nights' Evan Paul, "but I made a point not to go into details in the song about my story. I tried to zoom it out, make it more relatable."

Needless to say, fans are connecting the dots.

The hitmaker has previously shared that it takes him years to process life events for the sake of a song. Four years may be enough. That's how long it's been since his arrest on DUI charges. He called the incident an immediate wake up call.

"Over time you reflect on it. You learn from your mistakes," he says.

In February 2022, Hunt's wife Hannah Lee filed for divorce, citing infidelity. It was a whirlwind few months for the couple as she'd withdraw the filing hours later, only to file in another county. Two months later, they called the divorce off for good, and in May 2022, the couple welcomed their first child together.

Related: 11 Great Country Songs About Getting Arrested

"Locked Up" — which Hunt first performed during CRS 2023 — is about making a big mistake and having your significant other stick with you.

"And realizing through that how much she loves you and how much you love her and how strong your bond is," he says.

That is something Hunt can relate to.

Picture of sam hunt wife at cmt awards
Matt Winkelmeyer, Getty Images

"One beautiful thing about Hannah is she forgives quickly," he says when asked if he spent many cold nights sleeping on the couch. "And I also have a rule that I'm not sleeping on the couch. She's gonna shoot me before I don't sleep in my own bed."

Taste of Country: How hard was it to get Hannah to co-star in the video?

Hunt: I thought she would be reluctant, and she was a little reluctant, but she agreed to it with a little coaxing. I was happy about that. She just didn't want to be in there too much, so she got to look at the edits before we finished it up.

Was it filmed in an actual prison?

Yeah, there's a prison, an old prison east of Nashville about two hours that is closed down now. It was an old prison. James Earl Ray was there years ago, and he tried to escape, and they ended up tracking him down. It's a spooky place, but fitting for the concept we had, Folsom Prison vibes.

Editor's Note: Hunt is referring to Brush Mountain State Penitentiary in Petros, Tenn., closed in 2009 but re-opened for tours in 2018.

Who were the prisoners?

The inmates, those were guys from the town. We recruited them ... we fed 'em and maybe paid them a little bit. Not sure what the deal was on that. They were great. We told 'em to own the part and they started breaking out in fights and (improvising) and they went for it.


Whose idea was the music video?

My manager had that idea not long after I played him the song, and then we expanded on it from there. It was a lofty — being presumptuous enough to dress up like Johnny Cash, I was a little reluctant with that, because he was such a legend. I didn't want to come across like I was trying to steal any of his mojo, but it just seemed so fitting and it's such a classic concert and piece of Americana.

Did you check in with the Cash family or get any feedback?

No. We weren't overt enough. We didn't mention his name or do anything specific for Johnny Cash. Just the black suit and the get-up and hair was about as far as it went.

What's the most played Sam Hunt song in the Sam Hunt household?

I don't play any of the music at the house unless I'm listening to a new demo I just got back. It'd be like watching a movie you were in ... you know what I mean. You don't want to do that.

What else is coming up for 2024?

I'm gonna start fresh after this EP gets out and close that chapter and start a new one. I look at the EP — the four songs go with the past seven, past six that I've put out over the last two-and-a-half years. That really is a whole project. I look at that like a whole project even thought it's not bundled in an album form. I'm gonna start fresh and see what's next from here.

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