Story Behind the Song: Dan + Shay, ‘From the Ground Up’
Back in 2016, country duo Dan + Shay kicked off their sophomore album Obsessed with the release of "From the Ground Up." The ballad tells the story of how their grandparents' long-lasting marriages set an example for both Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney as the two members of the duo entered into marriages and created new families of their own.
However, the day "From the Ground Up" came to be, the pair didn't walk into a room intending to write a song. Read on to learn the story of how a plan to record vocals for another track turned into the songwriting session that produced "From the Ground Up," according to Smyers.
I was driving back from my grandfather's funeral in Ohio that day, and I went to meet up with Shay and [Chris] DeStefano at DeStefano's place, his studio. We were gonna work vocals for another song we had written previously.
I got in at about eight at night. We started cutting the other vocal, and we got about a verse in when DeStefano stepped outside to take a call. In the time that he was on the phone, we started talking about our grandparents. By the time he came back, we had gotten derailed from our task and started sharing stories.
I was talking about my grandparents, you know, after getting back from their house. They were married for over 65 years, and Shay was like, "That's crazy! My grandparents were married for over 65 years as well." We were just talking about that, and how incredible that is. In this day and age, it's so rare to see [two people] together for 65 years; it's something to look up to in our own personal relationships. Shay had already started picking this little 6/8 thing on acoustic guitar, and literally, the song wrote itself in 45 minutes.
I think we were originally talking about writing a Christmas song; I don't know why we started talking about snow. We were talking about the title, "From the Ground Up," and we thought it was an interesting metaphor to talk about snow building from the ground up [as a way of] talking about a relationship of 65 years. We got about three lines in, and we were like, "We should make this a real song. This feels special." Like I said, about 45 minutes later we had a song and did a little work tape demo of it.
I remember being so emotional about it. It was an emotional day. I called my girlfriend at the time, my wife now, and asked her to come over to the studio and listen. She cried. At that point, we knew it could be something special. We hadn't even done a full version with piano and strings yet.