Walker Hayes' Darkest Hours Inspired Songs on “Country Stuff The Album”
Most people who know Walker Hayes' name know him as the "Fancy Like" singer. He's relatable, happy, loves his wife, has lots of kids, and choreographs dances with his oldest daughter that help his songs go viral.
That's the surface. And, it's all true. But there's so much more to Hayes' story, which he shared with The Ty Bentli Show on Apple Music Country while promoting his new album, "Country Stuff The Album."
"Country Stuff The Album," which is out now, features his runaway hit "Fancy Like" along with duets with Carly Pearce, Jake Owen, Lori McKenna and Christian music group MercyMe.
"I couldn't be more excited to share (the album)," Hayes said in a statement. "Every song on this album is a piece of who I am. I'm grateful I get to put out music that is 100% me, and that really is about my life. I hope people can relate in some way."
Hayes' relationship with Owen is more profound than the collaboration. About seven years ago, Hayes worked at Costco when Owen recorded one of his songs. He was convinced the track called "Song In Your Pocket" would help turn things around for him and his family. He thought he was going to make money and pay off some bills. When things didn't work out as planned, Owen made the call himself.
"That has happened to me many, many times in this town, probably 10 where I banked on getting a cut on someone's album," Hayes said. "Well, he didn't cut it, and he didn't owe me anything, but he gave me a phone call. I remember sitting in the Costco parking lot. I was devastated. I had just gotten the news that it didn't make it on his album. And he called just to apologize. He said, 'Man, I still love the song. And, I'm really sorry. It didn't make it on the album.' And it wasn't like the answer to all our problems. But man, that phone call meant so much to me. It blew me away."
From then on, Hayes said, Owen was in his corner.
"If I've ever experienced any success, he is always the first to reach out among the artist community and just say, 'Hey man, I'm jacked for you. I'm rooting for you…,'" Hayes said. "So, it made sense … to invite him to be a part of that song."
"AA" comes from a much darker place in Hayes' life. The catchy, up-tempo song was inspired by one of the worst days of his life.
"The day we buried our daughter, Oakleigh, who was our seventh (child), I sat in an AA meeting that night," Hayes said. "I could still see the dirt on my shoe from her grave that we had filled in. And man, an AA meeting just saved my life. That night I actually drove to a bar, and I wanted to just get hammered and get in a fight, and I didn't have my wallet. And when I went home, I just broke down. When I walked in my house, and I was so ashamed, I saw my wife on the couch all by herself. I was like, 'I'm, I'm so sorry.' You know, I left her alone to just go self-destruct. And she helped me. She found an AA meeting in Williamson County."
The album is also home to a reworked version of Hayes' song "Craig." Hayes wrote the song about his friend Craig who helped him find his faith – and gifted him a van – when he needed help the most. The song originally appeared on Hayes' "boom." album, but it has since inspired a book and MercyMe jumped on the updated version.
Hayes said he thinks "Fancy Like" achieved success to attract more attention to "Craig."
"It's not often you hear a song resurface on a person's next album," Hayes said. "To me, that is the cornerstone of the album by far, and I think it's going to be remarkable to watch that song spread."