Fans of Walker Hayes‘ more uptempo songs, like “Fancy Like,” know him as a sharp lyricist with a carefree message (and some serious dance skills). And all that is true, but Hayes has dealt with more than his fair share of tragedy, including the loss of his seventh child, Oakleigh, who was born and died on the same day in June 2018.
That painful day was part of the inspiration behind “AA,” the follow-up single to “Fancy Like,” Hayes explains during an appearance on Apple Music Country’s Ty Bentli Show. While the song’s still easy to dance to, it explores some darker subject matter, like Hayes’ struggle with alcoholism.
“The day we buried our daughter Oakleigh, who was our seventh [child], I sat in an AA meeting that night,” the singer remembers. “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 could have easily been the night that Hayes relapsed after two years of sobriety.
“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,” he reveals. “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 so sorry.’ You know, I left her alone to just go self-destruct,” he continues. “And she helped me. She found an AA meeting in Williamson County.”
Hayes remains sober to this day, though he’s still a big fan of songs about throwing back a cold one: His new release is called “Drinking Songs.”