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Sam Hunt’s new video highlights importance of bystander action

Livia Meneghin || Senior Staff Writer

Sam Hunt, the 30-year-old football player turned country singer, released a music video on March 13 for his second single, “Take Your Time” off his debut album, Montevallo. The video takes the love song’s lyrics to a new dimension, tackling domestic violence head on.

Sam Hunt only first started flirting with music in college, when he bought his first guitar. After the Georgia native was invited to training camp with the Kansas City Chiefs, he decided that football was not the right path, and started to pursue a career as a country singer-songwriter.

His style is instinctual and his inspiration is varied. Hunt mentioned musicians from Usher to Conway Twitty as musical influences during an interview on Nash FM 101.1 Radio last October.

“Take Your Time” looks like a simple love song on paper. The lyrics describe a man seeing a woman and wanting to get to know her better. His “heart is pounding” but he, luckily for this feminist, doesn’t “wanna steal her freedom,” just her time. [Note that I’ve interpreted the lyrics in a positive light, my views possibly encouraged by the video. I do not see the speaker as wanting to take advantage of, or mistreat, the woman, but rather simply get to know her.]

If the lyrics weren’t convincing enough of the speaker’s good intentions and kind heart, then the video is worth the watch.

Starting off with a visual and audible presentation of a fight, the video directs our attention immediately to the violence. Slowly, as we follow Hunt walking down the street, we hear a very conversational first verse: Hunt speaks the lines, bringing the narrative nature of country songs to life, and projecting the everyday attitude of his story. Domestic violence is not rare. Man — on — woman violence happens too often.

I appreciated the mellow — yet —  forward moving sound of the instrumentation, complementing Hunt’s simple lyrics. By using a piano and guitar, Hunt creates a mid-tempo ballad. By the first chorus the video remains focused on the speaker and the woman he’s interested in knowing more closely, with her boyfriend/husband taking the backseat. The music sets this pace, and we viewers can envelope ourselves in his kind words. The video also raises the stakes by showing that the woman has a child; the abuse she endures is unforgivable as is, but the fact that a child could potentially be in danger adds to the serious and dark tone.

Similarly with “Take Your Time,” the lyrics only provide the love story between the speaker and the woman, whereas the video sheds light on her life and the stakes. During the bridge, the boyfriend/husband returns, accompanied by a harder electric guitar sound. The woman packs her bags, planning a getaway from the abusive environment. “Finally, the woman will escape!” I thought. But I had forgotten the first scene of the video: the fight.

Slowly the audio of the scene creeps into the music, and we watch the abuser catch the woman trying to escape. Luckily, the baby is already in the pickup. Hunt notices the fight and attacks the boyfriend/husband. While the men fight, the woman is able to start the car and leave.

While some of my fellow feminists might be upset that a man had to save the day, I don’t think that was Hunt’s intention. Everyone separates and walks away from each other: the abuser, the abused, the speaker. Belville Dunkerly’s Rolling Stone article calls the character a “ballroom vigilante,” but his “heroism” isn’t rewarded in the traditional and chauvinistic sense that he should “get the girl.” The woman isn’t an object to be won. Yes, Hunt’s character did a noble thing, but his motivation was simply to do good. And that’s admirable.

What is important is that the woman is free. She and the baby are safe.

The video ends with a tight camera panning on the booth of the pickup, first on the baby, and ending with a quick glance at the woman’s face, which gives a smile. A quick search on Metrolyrics.com shows the ending of this story as “I just wanna take your time, ooh.” That’s certainly not as powerful as the ending the video provides.

“Take Your Time” is now #1 on the Hot Country Songs Chart, and #21 on the All Genre Hot 100. It is heartwarming to see how popular this music video is becoming because it brings to light an issue that isn’t discussed nearly enough and shows the importance of bystander action.

Livia Meneghin is a senior staff writer. Her email is lmeneghi@fandm.edu.