Walker Hayes Interview: Colt Ford & The Real Inspiration Behind “You Broke Up With Me”

Walker Hayes Interview: Colt Ford & The Real Inspiration Behind "You Broke Up With Me"

A few years ago, Nashville broke up with Walker Hayes. However, just like many an ex, Nashville realized the error of their ways and came crawling back. I got to chat with the “You Broke Up With Me” singer recently and, I gotta say, this super talented musician and father of 6 [soon to be 7] has a fabulous story to share about perseverance and never giving up on your dreams. Oh, and he has the baddest song about letting your ex know what’s up. 😉

Walker Hayes Interview: Colt Ford & The Real Inspiration Behind “You Broke Up With Me”

Walker Hayes shared with us about his current tour opening for Kelsea Ballerini, which included a stint with her at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on Valentine’s night and dates in Clearwater, Fl and a show in Charlotte, NC, tonight.

EPR: Do you and Kelsea ever do anything on stage together?

Walker Hayes: No, we have written together but she doesn’t sing that song we wrote. And, I also have a song called, “Halloween,” that features a female in the chorus, so maybe she’ll do that with me as the tour progresses. But this is our 2nd weekend so we’re still, honestly, just getting to know each other out on the road.

EPR: That’s pretty cool and exciting. Speaking of collaborations, you have collaborated with Colt Ford. What was that experience like?

Walker Hayes: He’s awesome. He’s just a good ol’ boy and true to his music. He was always somebody that I looked up to because he definitely has a lot of hip hop influence in his music. He’s proud about it and he was actually one of the first artists in town to ever allow, basically, he started cutting stuff that I wrote a few years back. So, that was him taking a big risk. I didn’t have a lot of cred as a writer in town and he began to cut some of my songs. And in his last album, he featured me on a song called, “Dirty Side,” that we actually wrote together. And then he also cut one of my songs called, “Workin’ On,” and he has a new one. On his new album he cut one of my songs that I recently wrote. So, he’s always had a lot of faith in me and I love that guy. No one’s ever said a bad thing about him and I can’t imagine, he’s just such a sweet guy.

EPR: Where are you from originally?

Walker Hayes: Originally I am from Mobile. My wife and I both grew up in Mobile, Alabama and we both went to Birmingham Southern so we lived in Birmingham for 4 years. And then I finished school in Chapel Hill in North Carolina and then we got married and moved to Nashville.

EPR: So, did you and your wife go to high school together, too? Or did you meet in college?

Walker Hayes: Oh yeah, we went to a small, private school in St Paul. St Paul’s in Mobile. I was actually a year younger, a grade below her. I started in Pre-K and she started in Kindergarten. We knew each other, but I didn’t get the guts to ask her out until I was in 11th grade and she was a senior. So, we had a small town, high school sweetheart thing going on.

Walker Hayes Interview: Colt Ford & The Real Inspiration Behind "You Broke Up With Me"

EPR: Awwww…. So, I read that you have either 6 or 7 children. Is that true?

Walker Hayes: We have 6 kids. We have 3 boys and 3 girls and we have one coming in June. We are just so fortunate. It never gets old. They are awesome kids and they actually came to the show at the Ryman the other night and they are beginning to eat up this lifestyle. I mean they love going to the shows and getting their credentials and kind of running around and listening to music. They love it.

Walker Hayes and his family moved to Nashville originally in 2004. He then lost his record deal while his wife was pregnant. So Hayes went to work at Costco for a while to support his family, without knowing if he would ever have another recording contract. This was an experience that he called, “humbling.” He said that he could work many jobs that wouldn’t make him happy but that would support his family. But, it was important to him to set a good example for his children about what you could achieve if you continue to work towards your dreams.

EPR: One of my readers, Ronda, asked if Craig is a real person and if the story is true.

Walker Hayes: Yes, he was actually at the show the other night. Craig is one of those people that has always asked how we are. He is not one of those, “smell you later” kind of people. I am not sure if you have ever had to share a car with anyone, but with the kids and carpooling and everything, it can be hard.

Walker Hayes then went on to tell me about how Craig surprised him and his family with a vehicle, title in hand, as a gift. He said that he had no idea about Craig’s financial status but that he knew he was not rich. He said that gift was very much appreciated and helped Hayes and his family through many tough times.

EPR: I love the line in “You Broke Up With Me,” where you tell the girl to “simmer on down a notch.” Have you ever actually told a girl to “simmer on down a notch?” If so, how did that work out for you?

Walker Hayes: [laughs] I know better than to tell my wife that! I have told my kids that, though, when they have been jacked up on Coke and Gummy Bears. That’s just something I have always said, even years ago. I am glad that you like the line. We just thought it worked well in the song.

EPR: In the video for “You Broke Up With Me,” you are in a little building. Tell me about that.

Walker Hayes: Yeah, it’s a little tool shed. I work in there and I make all kinds of noises, beat box and such, seeing what works for my songs. The label is doing some remodeling and they are thinking about taking it out, though, but I am trying to talk them out of it.

EPR: You could tell them that it could be a part of music history, like a “this is where it all happened,” kind of place.

Walker Hayes: I know! I told them, “let me do a couple more albums” and you could sell tickets to come see this place.

Walker Hayes Interview: Colt Ford & The Real Inspiration Behind "You Broke Up With Me"

EPR: Was there anyone or anything in particular that inspired that song?

Walker Hayes then tells me about how, after he lost his original recording contract, he stopped hearing from most of his former friends in Nashville. But when he started working with Shane McAnally, people starting coming back around, kind of like fairweather friends. Hayes was getting all kinds of calls, people wanted to hang out and such and he felt guilty because he did not have enough time to devote to everyone who asked. His wife told him to stop worrying about it because they broke up with him.

People have since put their own meanings to, “You Broke Up With Me,” relating it to their own lives and experiences. But, it’s essentially, a song about showing someone that you can be just fine without them.

You can catch Walker Hayes live locally tonight at Coyote Joe’s. Check out the rest of his tour schedule here.

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About Dawn McAlexander

Dawn has been a music lover her entire life. She went to college in Boone, NC, an area that is rich in music and culture. She also worked as a radio deejay for 8 years and grew up in Southeastern, Va, a melting pot of different musical styles and traditions. She has been to more concerts than she can count in every genre you can imagine. She resides in North Carolina with her furbabies and her massive collection of Disney memorabilia.


  1. Awesome interview! Awesome guy! Awesome concert!!

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