Walker Hayes’ “Fancy Like” has gone undefeated for 18 weeks now on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, and while people might think this song was just a feel-good night out song with Applebee’s, it isn’t. was not the case. For Hayes, this was his decisive lead.
2005: In pursuit of the dream
Sixteen years ago Walker Hayes and his wife Laney arrived in Nashville with the hopes of making a living in the world of country music. Hayes was three years old fresh out of a small liberal arts college in Birmingham, Alabama, with a Bachelor of Music (major in piano) and a heart full of inspiration and passion. He has long been preparing to pursue this dream, learning to play guitar and performing country covers at a local bar.
And he found his way almost easily. Hayes landed a job for a Nashville publishing house, then with a powerful demo he recorded for Keith Urban, he signed a deal with Mercury Records before quickly moving on to Capitol Records, putting it on the same label. that with Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, and Dame A.
In 2010, five years after the start of his career, he finally released his first single entitled “Pants”. The song debuted at number 60 on the Hot Country Songs chart, but it didn’t really make much of an impact. A year later, he followed up with a single “Why Wait for Summer” from his first album, Reason to Rhyme, which failed again. With two singles that died out in the 1940s and an album that never made the charts, Hayes found himself in a creative wasteland and then abandoned his label.
His wife Laney was pregnant with their fifth child and he had no plan B.
2014: Walking the long and rugged path
Things definitely got tough for Hayes and his family after losing his contract with the label. And in the cut-throat music industry, that loss meant people were losing faith in you as well. He still had a publishing deal at the time, but his songs weren’t cut by other artists.
With a family to support, Hayes took a job stocking the shelves at Costco from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. so he could still make it to the date writing. It was a particularly humbling experience for him as he first asked a fan if the retail chain was hiring. He also struggled to transport his family of seven in a car that did not have enough seat belts.
At one point, everything went wrong for Hayes, and he found solace in a bottle of liquor. It was his way of numbing the pain of losing something he was working so hard for and the pressures of not being able to deliver. In a later interview, Hayes explained how he felt so embarrassed after Nashville chewed him up and spat him out. This shame was so painful that he would drink and then the shame of being drunk made him drink more. It has become a cycle that has become so difficult for him to break.
2016: Breaking the cycle
Hayes knew he had a problem because he used alcohol in his daily life, but at the same time, he also knew that he would be lost without this problem. But one day in 2016, he finally decided he wouldn’t drink anymore. There were a lot of times he was tempted to drink another bottle, but he stuck with his decision. At one point, a beer in her refrigerator remained intact for weeks, which inspired a song later in her career called “Beer in the Fridge”.
It was also during this year that Hayes finally got his redemption in the form of successful Grammy-winning songwriter and producer Shane McAnally. One day, he simply contacted Hayes, telling him that he wanted to make a record with him. Hayes cried in response as he felt he had been rescued immediately.
Hayes then began to devote himself fully to his craft, taking over a tool shed behind his publisher’s Music Row desk to create. He then released two self-produced EPs 8Tracks, Vol. 1: Good shit, and 8Tracks, Vol. 2: Break the Internet through McAnally’s SMACKSongs and rebuilt her audience. Walker Hayes songs were slowly returning to the limelight.
2017: meet again and take off the mask
Seven years later, after his first release, Walker Hayes was offered a rare second chance as a flagship artist on Monument Record. And this time, he was there to prove that he could do it.
Musically, the difference between the 2010 Hayes and this 2017 version of him was that instead of focusing on giving the Market and Guardians what he thought they wanted, he served them the best of what they wanted. ‘he had to offer. He found who he was as an artist, and he finally had the courage to step back from the mask. And that gave birth to Walker Hayes’ “You Broke Up With Me,” a booming track that earned him his first top 10 hit, and “Craig,” a personal and soulful song that touched many people.
But contrary to the common misconception about the song, it’s not actually a song about lovers. This song was inspired by his castaway life in the music industry and a devious dig into the music industry. By the time Walker Hayes and his wife Laney Beville Hayes were pregnant with their fourth child and still with Capitol, the hospital room was awash with gifts and flowers from Nashville’s top songwriters and executives. But the moment he lost his market, the room became empty and no one celebrated with them as they greeted their new little angels. And then things turned 180 degrees when he was signed to Monument. All of a sudden people in the industry were calling and texting him over and over again.
All of a sudden it was important.
2021: claiming the top
After “You Broke Up With Me” and his album boom Gave Hayes some well-deserved attention, things haven’t gone so well for him. And again, he suffered from depression. In 2018, Walker Hayes’ ’90s country’ failed to land the Top 40 and, combined with that, he also lost his seventh child, Oakleigh Klover, while his wife’s life was on the line. On top of all this, he still constantly struggled with the temptation to drink.
2019 and 2020 are here, but nothing he released really made it to the charts until “Fancy Like”. The wellness and dating song with Applebee earned him breakout success, earning him an undefeated number one for 18 weeks now. The song was born out of fate, and it turned out to be the song that changed her fate.
The years have been painful, he’s struggled a lot and he’s lost a lot, but all of those things shaped Walker Hayes, made him who he is and got him to where he is right now.