Story Behind the Song: Dan + Shay, ‘How Not To’
Country duo Dan + Shay's 2016 No. 1 hit "How Not To" tells the story of how difficult it can be to move on, whether it be from a breakup or, as the song's music video depicts, from an addiction. With its strong, acrobatic melodies and evocative lyrics, the song is trademark Dan + Shay in many respects, so it may surprise some fans to learn that neither member of the duo had a hand in writing it.
Written by Adam Hambrick, Paul DiGiovanni, and Kevin Bard, the song instantly spoke to both Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney, however. Read on to learn more about the story of how "How Not To" came to be, in Mooney's words, and why the duo believes it's so important to not let songwriting ego get in the way of delivering the best song possible to fans.
Dan and I have always said, let the best song win. We're huge fans of songwriters. We moved here to be songwriters. When you drive up and down Music Row, you're looking at all these buildings, and I remember going here for the first time, and I'd get starstruck whenever I'd see a tour bus, but I'd also get starstruck whenever I'd meet a big writer. It's the basis of country music, and it all starts right here in this town. You have all these dreams growing up, in whatever town you're from, and then you get here and you get to meet these people after you've heard their songs from thousands of miles away over the radio. It's just magic, and it happens right here in Nashville.
We heard "How Not To," and it just really seemed like a Dan + Shay song. There's a lot of really talented people in this town, and we don't have an ego about songwriting. We put out songs that are really special to us we think are really good songs. We thought that "How Not To" was a fantastic song, and that we owed it to our fans to put it out.
It was the first hit for a couple of [the songwriters] too, so it was awesome to be a part of that. It's almost like you're more nervous to put out a song you didn't write, because you feel like, "We gotta get these guys their first No. 1!" There was a lot of pressure there, but I'm glad we were able to get that to the top.