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"I was on a writing retreat. I took some of my best friends down," Lee told The Boot and other reporters at a recent media event. "They were my best friends and co-writers, so they know me personally and they know me musically. I was going to cut a record for myself. I said, 'Hey guys, let's go down and write songs for this record, for me, this guy.' It was easy. We split up in threes. There were three in the house and three outside, and we're writing songs for two or three days."
The singer-songwriter, whose previous single "A Woman Like You" reached No. 1 in April, was in another writing session while "Hard to Love" was being written. "I happened to be outside on this day with two of my other buddies and there were three inside, and they were writing 'Hard to Love.' I went inside to make myself a sandwich, I was like, 'Oh, you've got to be kidding me!' I walk over, and I was like, 'This is awesome.' It felt like I was in the room writing it, because they know me so well. Really, they're all like me, too. We're all boys, so it was easy for those guys to write something like that. I knew, even then, that as long as they didn't screw it up, it was something I could record."
The song, which was penned by Ben Glover, Billy Montana and John Ozier, is one Lee says has a universal message for men. "They were pointing it towards me and themselves," he says. "We're the same kind of dudes, so it was easy to know that. It really was."
Lee heads to the CMA Awards on Thursday (Nov. 1), with a No. 1 song and a nomination for New Artist of the Year. The 46th Annual CMA Awards will air live from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena at 8:00 PM ET on ABC.