Tyler Hubbard was aiming to paint a picture with the lyrics of “5 Foot 9.” Inspired by his wife, Hayley Hubbard, the singer teamed up with the Cadillac Three’s Jaren Johnston and hit songwriter Chase McGill to pen what would become his first single as a solo artist after Florida Georgia Line disbanded. It didn’t take long for them to craft a sweet narrative wrapped around an ear-friendly melody. Below, Hubbard shares the story behind “5 Foot 9.”
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Meaning Behind the Song
Hubbard recalls it was raining in Nashville the day he, Johnston and McGill went into the writers’ room to pen his future hit song. Since they all had places to be after, they managed to write the song fairly quickly, Johnston cutting a rough acoustic demo while on the road on his tour bus.
“The next day, he sent something that was really cool, unique–it’s just got this raw real, kind of grungy sound,” Hubbard describes of the demo to American Songwriter. “It was fun to take that template into the studio and recreate it and put our own flare on it.”
The rain they saw hitting the windowpane inspired the line the way she dances with the raindrops / Like she’s the reason why they fall from the sky. Hubbard also includes visions of his wife greeting him as he pulls up in the driveway, as described in the lines, that sweet little kiss she lays on me / When I pull up in the gravel drive
“We just wanted to paint some pictures,” Hubbard says of their approach. “That innocence and that visual, and that color, really just being able to put a visual and help somebody go there mentally and visually, I think’s fun.”
Like that sweet little kiss she lays on me
When I pull up in the gravel drive
The way she dances with the raindrops
Like she’s the reason why they fall from the sky
And I thank Him every time I close my eyes
God makes five foot nine, brown eyes, and a sundress
Loves Tim McGraw and a small-town accent
Ain’t no way that me and this truck made her fall in love
Jack makes good whiskey but God makes the good stuff
One of the singer’s favorite lines is when he notes dry wood makes good fires / Goodyears make good swings, knowing full well that people’s minds automatically think he’s going to say “tires” to rhyme with “fires.”
“I would say [it’s] the line that gets everybody, including me when we wrote it, because of the line before, you think that I’m going to sing Goodyears make good tires,” he explains. “I love watching people’s reaction when I’m playing that for them, especially for the first time, because everybody just smiles like, ‘I see what you did there.’ That’s one of my favorite parts of that song lyrically.”
The hitmaker observes that they could have gone the “predictable” route and put in the line everyone expected to follow. But he and the writers were intentional about doing something different that teased the listener’s mind.
“As songwriters, we’re always looking for a new way to say something or a twist on a line that makes people kind of smile or chuckle or think they had it figured out and throw a little curve ball out,” he analyzes. “It’s fun.”
Released as the first single off his debut self-titled album, “5 Foot 9” proved that Hubbard has power as a solo artist as the track hit No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart in 2022. The song made Hubbard the first male country artist who was formerly in a duo to have a No. 1. As part of FGL, Hubbard scored 18 No. 1 hits, making his first No. 1 as a solo artist even more validating.
“It feels so good to have ‘5 Foot 9’ as my first number one,” he professes, adding that the accomplishment “inspires” and “motivates” him to keep creating. “Just to have another first number one is really cool.
“I think the second time around it’s even cooler probably because I have a different perspective, a different gratitude. I’m stepping into unknown territory and a new excitement, energy and fun…it makes me feel accepted, supported and there’s nothing more rewarding as a songwriter to know that the songs are connecting with the fans.”
Tyler Hubbard is available now.
Photo courtesy of UMG Nashville