Walker Hayes just shared a new song he wrote about his recent Twitter skirmish with fellow singer-songwriter Zach Bryan, but you’d be hard pressed to call it a diss track. On the contrary, Hayes’ new track reflects on the nature of insecurity, and wonders why people so often wind up “butt hurt” by their peers’ success.
“Felt like throwing punches / But I just held ’em back / ‘Cause Jesus didn’t die for me / So I could fight with Zach Bryan,” Hayes sings in one verse of the song, referencing his decision to take the high road after Bryan spoke dismissively about his biggest radio hit to date.
“No hard feelings / ‘Cause man, I’d be lyin’ / If I said I ain’t never / Talked s–t about a radio record / ‘Cause I thought mine was better,” he continues. “It’s kinda funny / Oughta feel happy for any fool makin’ money makin’ songs / ‘Cause I know most of us die tryin / To be Zach Bryan.”
A little backstory here: Earlier in January, Bryan hopped on social media to applaud the fact that Tyler Childers‘ “In Your Love” cracked the Top 50 at country radio — a first for Childers, despite the fact that he’s been one of the leading figures of Americana and alt-country for the better part of a decade.
But when Bryan praised Childers, he also jabbed Hayes’ song “Fancy Like,” which was a ubiquitous country radio hit in 2021.
“Imagine being radio (whoever the hell that is), hearing Shake the Frost and being like, ‘no, no let’s go with the Applebee’s song,” Bryan tweeted. He later clarified that he wasn’t “insulting anyone,” and that his statement was meant with “humor not malice,” but the words still stung, and many of Hayes’ fans came to his defense.
Hours later, Hayes himself weighed in, writing, “Big shout out to radio for playing dat Applebee’s song” and adding, “Zach and Tyler praying y’alls continued success.”
It was a classy response, and in the caption of the post where he shared the demo of his new song, Hayes since the writing session began after a couple of his friends told him they were impressed that he’d responded so gracefully.
“I confessed that they only saw my best foot forward,” the singer adds, admitting he was tempted to drop some fighting words back to Bryan instead.
But instead of stoking the feud, Hayes chose to reflect on the human tendency toward jealously and the natural inclination to feel like another person’s success takes away from one’s own opportunity.
“Then we wondered about that. Why on earth we would do that as songwriters. Knowing that .0001 percent of us are actually making it in this biz,” he points out. “Took me 18 years to feed my kids with music and I’ll still knock something I hear on the radio cuz I didn’t write it.”
One of country music’s sharpest and most prolific modern lyricists, Hayes frequently turns around songs about real-life events that happened just days or weeks before — and shares the results with his fans on social media. Last year, inspired by the birthday gift he gave his nine-year-old daughter Loxley — tickets to Taylor Swift‘s Eras Tour — Hayes wrote a tender ballad about his love for his kids titled “Taylor Swift.”
Fans of Walker Hayes‘ “Fancy Like” need to know about these songs, too. The hitmaker has been in Nashville for nearly two decades, one failed recording contract, a flirtation with being broke and an alcohol addiction. That’s a lot to write about, and he does so in the most accessible ways. What’s your favorite Walker Hayes song? Find links to each in the description.
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