Walker Hayes and Craig Cooper‘s new book, Glad You’re Here, is out. The book details the pair’s unlikely friendship, when Hayes was dealing with a series of life-crushing blows, and it was Cooper who helped bring Hayes out of one of the darkest seasons of his life.
“I needed to feel welcome, honestly,” Hayes says on the Today Show. “Nashville beat me up. I was an alcoholic; Laney and I lost a kid. It was tough. And the unconditional love of Craig and his family truly changed our life. We saw Jesus in them, so clearly, and that’s coming from an atheist, so that’s wild. And again, it’s just wild that we’re sharing a book about Jesus. We’re neighbors now. It’s insane. I love this guy, I love his family. I’m just glad we get to do life together.”
Hayes wrote a song, “Craig,” about Cooper and their friendship, which includes Coper giving Hayes a minivan when they couldn’t afford one. At the time, Hayes, who first included the song on his 2017 Boom album, wanted nothing to do with faith or Christianity, but he was drawn to something in Cooper.
“It’s all about Jesus, honestly now, which it wasn’t at all,” Hayes reflects. “When I wrote this song for Craig, I was very intentional in not saying Jesus’ name. I didn’t want to say His name; I didn’t believe in Him. But I said ‘Man, this dude might actually know Him.’ That’s what the song says. And that was kind of my rebuttal to their unconditional love, the gift of the car. And now I know the Lord.”
When Hayes and Cooper began writing Glad You’re Here, “Fancy Like” had yet to become a viral hit. The explosion of his career means for Hayes very little about his music, and a lot more about his faith and spirituality.
“The music, it’s all awesome,” Hayes boasts. “But I truly feel like I’ve been given this platform and this stage to share this message. And the timing of it has been all Lord-orchestrated. We started this book two years ago. I could have sold 12 copies. And now with ‘Fancy Like,’ now I’m helping superstars start TikTok videos. We have a great platform to share this simple message of vulnerability, friendship and just strangers becoming neighbors. I feel like everybody needs to hear that.”
Cooper might have helped bring Hayes out of the proverbial darkness, but the ordained minister says Hayes and his wife, Laney, and their six children, have helped him just as much as he helped them.
“Walker and Laney and their family have been with us in our hardest times, and they have lifted us up,” Cooper says. “It’s been a friendship that is from Heaven, a smile of God. So when I first met him, I just thought, ‘This is an answer to prayer. This is a friend.’ It became a fast friendship, and it hasn’t stopped from there.”