Lyrics Uncovered: Dan + Shay, ‘Tequila’
If there's one feeling Dan Smyers, Nicolle Galyon and Jordan Reynolds were chasing when writing Dan + Shay's "Tequila" lyrics, it was nostalgia.
Reynolds is the one who pitched the idea for the track, knowing the duo's affinity for recalling the past, and the writers took a narrative approach of using the strong beverage as metaphor for triggering equally potent memories.
"Jordan knows that we drink tequila, he knows that that's our go-to, and he was like 'what if we write a song called 'Tequila?'" Smyers explains of the steps that led to the "Tequila" lyrics. "In typical Nashville songwriter fashion we're like, 'Let's figure out how we can make this as confusing as possible for the listener.' So instead of writing a feel-good, uptempo kind of thing, we were like, 'Let's go to Dan + Shay wheelhouse — let's go to a relationship or nostalgia zone.'"
The song has a way of transporting the listener into such a space with its descriptive lyrics, taking us on a journey "sky high in Colorado," tearing up a dance floor and a hand over the Bible.
"When I taste Tequila, baby I still see ya / Cutting up the floor in a sorority T-shirt / The same one you wore when we were / Sky high in Colorado, your lips pressed against the bottle / Swearing on a bible, baby, I'd never leave ya / I remember how bad I need ya / When I taste Tequila," Shay Mooney sings in the "Tequila" chorus.
"We basically used tequila as the trigger to go back to a specific situation with an ex and we just got super descriptive on it," Smyers explains. "It just kind of told the story."
And the way you hear it on the radio is almost exactly like how it was originally recorded. The simple piano and vocals on the demo got such an emotive response from fellow songwriters and artists who heard it that it solidified what a special song "Tequila" was. "When we went to cut the track, we wanted to maintain the integrity of why people fell in love with the demo in the first place," he says of including the original piano on the final track. "I think that right off the bat makes people's ears go 'wow I need to listen to what this is saying.'"
The duo included "Tequila" in the catalog of songs they were interested in recording for their second album, and when deciding how they wanted to lead off the next project, the sentimental song was the "unanimous choice."
"It felt like Dan and Shay 3.0, it felt like what we do best and Shay sang the heck out of the song," Smyers says, praising his duo partner. "It just felt right."
"Tequila" is the first taste of Dan + Shay's upcoming album that serves as the follow up to 2016's groundbreaking Obsessed that features the two No. 1 singles "From the Ground Up" and "How Not To." The duo will open for Rascal Flatts on their 2018 Back to Us Tour.
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