Walker Hayes' latest single, "90's Country," is a throwback to some of the music that influenced his life and career. The song, which references 22 hits from that era in three minutes, was written by Hayes, along with Shane McAnally and LYRX.
But more than just a fun song, Hayes — whose previous single, "Craig," was an ode to the man who helped Hayes and his family when they were struggling financially — also wanted to release something light-hearted. After mourning the loss of his seventh child this summer, the 38-year-old needed to find joy wherever he could.
"For people who don't know '90's country, we fought really hard for there to be a story line of a guy talking his girl and in a very fun language," Hayes told PopCulture.com. "The reaction has been incredible. For me for once, it's nice to put out a song that's just light, not so heavy. Coming off of 'Craig,' and the summer we had, and just it's nice to be back out there and promoting something uplifting, and nostalgic, and just sweet."
"90's Country" is the first song from an upcoming, still-untitled sophomore album, the follow-up to Hayes' freshman boom. record.
"[It will be] really more of the same," Hayes revealed of his second project. "Sonic-wise maybe a little bit bigger, a tad bit different, but that's just 'cause I'm evolving and there's new sounds I've heard that I want to use. But, lyrically it's just me. That's the exciting thing about '90's Country' is that although I used references to speak my heart, it still has that quirk I think that fits with the other stuff I write. There's a lot of new material that addresses my battle with trying to stay sober, kind of picking up where 'Beer in the Fridge' left off. There's a song about my dad, called 'Dad's Sailboat' that I shared to fans recently, but just really '90's Country' is a song on its own."
"The rest are just what I'm living," he continued. "They're just my life, personal stories. And so is '90's Country,' but I tackled that song by using references, so it was kind of like playing Scrabble with 90's country words. I had to use those to tell my heart. The album as we progress — I'm proud of what we've already kind of accumulated and you never know what's going to be next. I mean I may leave today and the idea might pop into my head, what's the next thing going to be."
"90's Country" might have taken a long time to write, but the video was shot in one frigid day, when Hayes successfully tried to give a nod to one of the leading men of country music in the 90s.
"It was not warm at all," Hayes recalled. "I grew up on Dog River in Mobile, and my parents had a place on Dog River where we skied and stuff, and also Magnolia River across the bay. My brother, and my sister, and her husband, they had a place. And so, water skiing was a part of my teenage life and I very vividly remember seeing that 'Chattahoochee' video when Alan Jackson came out with that song. And, since this is throw back and we mentioned the grape snow cone and stuff, I thought it'd be cool to just not duplicate it, but do a modern day version of that video ... but we had a blast."
"We sang on the boats and had some cameras following us on other boats," he added. "We were in Old Hickory Lake, we had a blast. We thought it was going to be like end of summer, but no it was not. It felt like football season. I got into that water and I'm telling you the water, they said it was 80 [degrees] or something like that, but it did not feel like 80 degrees. I was frozen, my lips were purple every time I would get out, but I stayed in it probably for a solid hour just skiing and trying to get the shots."
Download "90's Country" on iTunes.
Photo Credit: Getty images/Erika Goldring