Wade Hayes — the singer behind country hits like “Old Enough to Know Better” and “On a Good Night” — has a little bit of a problem. He just released his new album, Go Live Your Life, and he and his team keep running out of hard copies.
Make no mistake, he’s not complaining.
“We just got the first order in, and we have just realized that we need to order more, because we’re going through them like crazy. That’s a good problem to have. It’s a very exciting time, and there is a lot of exciting career things going on. It’s a very good time in my life.”
The album marks Hayes’ first new release since 2009’s Place to Turn Around, and also since being diagnosed with colon cancer in December 2011. He is currently in remission. Hayes says the emotions he’s feeling about the new album are very similar to those he felt about his 1995 debut, Old Enough to Know Better.
“It’s very similar in that they both represent a new chapter in a life. That was the most exciting time in my entire life. I was a 24-year-old country boy who had never been on an airplane before, much less been out of Oklahoma,” he recalled to Billboard. “My life changed dramatically during that period. It was such a blessing, and seeing all of that for the first time was so exciting. This time, as cheesy as it sounds, it is as if I’m looking at the world through new eyes with a renewed appreciation for life in general. It wasn’t too long ago that I was looking at a 12 percent chance of living a year. To have that on my mind every day, and to go out into the world and see it from that aspect, changed everything. I’m enjoying this time in my life and making it a point to appreciate every day as much as I can. That makes the whole day exciting to me.”
One listen to Go Live Your Life proves that Hayes is back to doing what he has always done best: traditional country. When told by this writer that you could mix cuts from the album into any of his previous records for Columbia, Hayes said, “I think this album definitely reflects all my tastes in music and what I do. I had never written a swing song before, and ‘Bluebonnet Blues’ was my first attempt at that. That’s a fun song for me all around — to play, write and sing. I love the music from that era, and I guess it’s engrained in my feeble mind and I love it. I know a lot of people still do. It’s what I do. I’m not the kind of guy who is going to come up with a drum loop or a modern-day-sounding country-pop song. My stuff is country music. That’s what I like, and I’m hoping that other people do as well.”
One song that definitely has a humorous spin is “Remember the Alimony,” which Hayes wrote with longtime friend Roger Springer. “He wrote so much of Mark Chesnutt‘s hits back in the day. He’s an Oklahoma guy as well and a very talented guy. He had the title, and it was one of those days where I was really enjoying writing. We just started laughing and writing — and laughing more,” though Hayes said he had to do a little bit of research. “We Googled the Alamo to get some more historical notes. It’s been a long time since I took history in high school or college.”
The title track has been getting airplay for a few months now, which marks a return to radio for Hayes. “It’s been 10 or 11 years since I was out there. It’s a very interesting place that I am in right now. I’m very grateful that there is still a fan base out there that wants to hear new music. I’m thankful for those folks.”
The singer shares a songwriting credit on nine of the album’s 11 tracks, but ironically, the one he didn’t write, “If the Sun Comes Up,” is the one most like his real-life experience. Instead, it was penned by Ray Scott, who went through a similar battle. “I heard Ray do that song a few years ago. He had gone through a bout with cancer, and that’s where the song came from. It really resonated with me, because things weren’t quite as rosy as they are right now. We were still fighting the fight. Once you’ve had Stage 4, there’s always a good chance that it could come back. So, that’s always going to be a part of my life. The song just felt like a natural piece to the puzzle.”
Hayes said he’s glad to have weathered the storm — and still be in the game. “I have to say that this point in my life is better than it’s been in years and years. I’m very thankful to even be alive, much less getting to make music for a living and have a new record out. I’m glad to be here.”
For every iTunes download of Go Live Your Life, biotech company Genentech will donate $1 (up to $50,000) to the Colon Cancer Alliance Blue Note Fund, a nonprofit that supports people with advanced colorectal cancer. Visit GoLiveYourLife.com for more info.