Longtime fans of Walker Hayes are already well-versed in his penchant for a quirky turn of phrase or unconventional approach to a country song. Consider “Craig” — a song about a guy he met in church who helped him through some of his darkest moments — or “Chapel” — a song about the moment he realized his son’s dreams might be different than his own.
But in his new single, “Drinking Songs,” Hayes offers up his take on a mainstream country radio banger. With lyrics that call on country music and strong alcohol to help heal a heartbreak, it’s familiar territory for most listeners. Hayes being Hayes, though, the lyrics are anything but lazy.
From the “ash tray full of burnt out ciga-regrets” to the line “What I need is in Williams’ voice right now / Hank and Evan, don’t let me down” — a nod to both the country legend and Evan Williams bourbon — Hayes’ take on spirit-soaked heartache is all his own, even if he is treading well-worn country music turf.
In real life, Hayes is sober, and he’s chronicled his journey with alcoholism in tracks like “Wish I Could Drink” and, more recently, the more whimsical “AA.” But for all of “Drinking Songs”‘ tales of blotting out pain with the contents of a shot glass, the meat of the song is about the singer’s homage to country traditions and the genre’s great, powerful tradition of heartbreak music.
Along with “AA” and another track, “U Gurl,” “Drinking Songs” follows Hayes’ monolithic No. 1 hit, “Fancy Like,” which came off the first iteration of his Country Stuff EP. He’s now expanding that project into a full-length album that will arrive on Jan. 21. “AA,” “U Gurl” and “Drinking Songs” are all new additions to the tracklist, as well as unreleased songs called “DeLorean” and “Life With You,” and a new version of “Craig” featuring Christian group MercyMe.
Walker Hayes’s “Drinking Songs” Lyrics:
Smoke rings in a dark room / Broke heart on a barstool / Ashtray full of burnt out ciga-regrets / Sad sound on the jukebox / Strong stuff on a few rocks / Head full of all the things that I shoulda said…
So give me that bourbon and Bocephus / I can’t help me, so help me Jesus / She ain’t coming back, like you she gone / So what I need is in William’s voice right now / Hank and Evan, don’t let me down / Bring them family traditions on / Imma just keep sittin’ and sippin’ and singin’ along / Thank God for drinking and drinking songs
New girl and a slow dance / She don’t know there ain’t no chance / I’ma remember her name when that rooster sings / Mama put me on prayer list / Brother says, “Only time will fix it / I know they’re right, but y’all, patience ain’t my thing
But I know this bottle don’t love me / And I ain’t never met Hank / But I know ol’ Jr. wouldn’t judge me / Singin’ “Why do you drink?” / All this whiskey here ain’t helping my case / So gettin’ into heaven would help / It’s the only thing I can’t push away like I do everybody else