Donovan Woods Channels a Past Relationship On Ambient 'Way Way Back': Exclusive

Donovan Woods
Matt Barnes

Donovan Woods

Donovan Woods went after a "dreaming feeling" in the stylized video for his new single "Way Way Back," which premieres exclusively below today (Nov. 1), after the song's September release.

"Way Way Back" itself stems from a conversation Woods -- who's co-written hits for Tim McGraw, Lady Antebellum's Charles Kelley and others -- had with his girlfriend about past life connections in the present day.

"We were talking about getting back together with someone you've been with in the past, romantically," Woods tells Billboard. "When that happens you'll only go as far as you've gone before. If you slept together before you'll sleep together again. I thought that was a funny thought, and definitely true -- but it's not something I'd ever heard anyone say out loud, so I took that idea and explored that particular space."

Woods adds that the general idea is "the comfort and nostalgia that memory lane offers, and being dragged back into the nostalgia of past relationships."

For the video, in turn, Woods -- an Ontario native who splits his time between Nashville and Toronto -- wanted it to have that dreamy feeling of nostalgia and past love and getting sucked back into a comfortable feeling. “My experience with somebody I had dated in the past is it's so easy to remember the good things and so hard to remember the bad things,” he says. “I think your memory cleans it all up for you, at least at first."

"Way Way Back," a one-off single following his latest album, The Other Way, also offers a bit of a stylistic departure for Woods, venturing into an ambient pop terrain. "I wrote it alone and played it for somebody and they said, 'Hey, you wrote a chorus,' so I just thought, 'Let's try and follow that feeling' and see what could come of it," Woods says. "It's fun for me to put some stuff out between [albums], and I think they can be a little different and try something new. Putting stuff out is the whole name of the game now. There can't be a lull anymore. So in-between records I like to push the limits a little bit from what I'm usually doing with a singer-songwriter format."

Woods, who recently co-wrote a new song with Lori McKenna, says "Way Way Back" is "the most drastic" of a new batch of songs he plans to put out, possibly grouping them into a pair of EPs he'll release in staggered fashion.

"I have a bunch of songs, but I haven't figured out how it's going to take shape yet," he says. "I've got four more songs recorded other than ['Way Way Back']. The others are pushing ahead a little bit, too, which is fun for me. I was a folk guy only by necessity, but I love all types of music so it's fun for me to not be boxed in, not be just strummy all the time."

The video for “Way Way Back” is below.