Walker Hayes was an alcoholic working at Costco driving a van a friend gave him when he saw songwriter/publisher/producer Shane McAnally in a Smoothie King. He went up and tapped him on the shoulder, and it changed his life.
Today Hayes is a sober, happily married father of six with one of the biggest viral hits of the last year. He's signed to McAnally's publishing company SMACKSongs, and "Fancy Like," written by Hayes, Cameron Bartolini, Josh Jenkins, and Shane Stevens, is the top song of 2021 on Billboard's country digital sales chart. McAnally and Joe Thibodeau co-produced the record.
"Gratitude is the first, it's the largest word on my mind right now, and it's inexpressible the amount of it," Hayes said on Today's Country Radio with Kelleigh Bannen on Apple Music Country. "And I swear, there's no way I can sit and be like, 'Yay me,' at all. All I can do is look at people like you and my team and my peers and my family, and just enjoy watching them experience how this has changed their lives."
Hayes believes "the Lord anointed a silly song" and that the moment McAnally was born, God knew the men would meet at Smoothie King.
"(God knew) we were going to have a tough few years, and eventually this weird song would pop out of SMACK," Hayes said. "(It's the) same with Josh Jenkins and Shane Stevens. When they were born, God knew, one day we're going to sit in a room, and this silly song would pop out. And he knew that when that song would pop out, some dad and his daughter would do this dance in the middle of Oklahoma and put it on TikTok. And just, God knew the million things that had to happen for it to happen. And then what would happen after it."
Hayes explained that if "Fancy Like" is the most successful song he ever has and never replicates it, he's okay with that. But he's not going to stop writing songs.
"I'm still going to get up and write songs until my hands don't work, and I can't read or write," he said. "The prayer before each write is just to be me. The 'Fancy Like' song came out of a place of just peace and freedom. I want to meet music there when I create, and then I'm just going to leave the rest up to the Lord. That's it."