The man behind the Walker Hayes song ‘Craig’ shares why they’ve written a book together
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Hayes had been dropped from his record label and was working early mornings at Costco to support his wife and family. A car dealership was letting the Hayeses use a van but when the record deal fell apart, the van went with it.
The family of eight had one car – a Honda Accord – and no money. That’s when Craig Cooper, a friend from church, showed up with a surprise gift that changed their lives.
“We had let them borrow our van anytime we traveled and we knew there was a need there,” Cooper tells EastIdahoNews.com. “One day I was talking with Laura (Cooper’s wife) and we felt really impressed that we needed to give them our van. We started to pray that God would find another vehicle for us and help us figure it out.”
The Coopers were not wealthy – they had $34 in their checking account – but felt they should sacrifice for their friends. Craig and Laura cleaned up their van and drove it to a baseball field near their Nashville home, where one of the Hayeses sons was playing in a game.
“Walker didn’t want to accept it and I didn’t know how it was going to land on him so I brought the title and already signed my portion,” Cooper explains. “I felt like I’m going to give this to him whether he wants it or not because I know they need it. And when he realized what was going down, he’s backing away saying, ‘No. No way. I am not taking your van. No.’ I was like, ‘Dude, please. You guys need it.'”
Hayes ended up driving the van home with his family and the story of that generous gift, and how it led to a journey of faith, is shared in a new book called ‘Glad You’re Here: Two Unlikely Friends Breaking Bread and Fences.’ Hayes and Cooper wrote it together during the pandemic and the country singer shares how his friend him develop a relationship with God and find deeper meaning in life.
The book is based on a song Hayes wrote to Cooper expressing his gratitude for the van. It’s called ‘Craig’ and was not meant to be released publicly but when Hayes signed with a new record label, executives encouraged him to include it on his 2017 album ‘Boom.’
“I met Craig at a church called Redeeming Grace…It’s like he understood my ‘I don’t want to be here’ face,” the song opens. “I felt out of place and I smelled like beer…But he just shook my hand, said ‘I’m glad you’re here.'”
“The song wasn’t intended for the entire world to hear. It was really just a thank you note from Walker to our family and when I got it, I just was broken in the best possible way,” Cooper recalls. “It hit me at a time when I really needed it. I had taken a walk that day and said, ‘Lord, is anything I’m doing making a difference in anybody’s life? Please help me see.’ And then that happened.”
The friendship between the two families grew to the point that the Hayeses moved next door to the Coopers and removed the back fence so their yards could be connected.
They have helped each other through good times and bad. ‘Glad You’re Here’ details how the Hayeses lost their seventh child at birth and the Coopers helped them grieve. And when Walker’s music career went through rough patches, and then great success with ‘Fancy Like’, the friendly neighbors were there no matter what.
“It’s been remarkable to watch and it couldn’t happen to someone better,” Cooper explains. “It’s neat to have him be able to share his testimony and his story with a larger audience. That’s where he gets really excited – to be able to reach more and more people with his story.”
Hear more of the story by watching the video in the player above. You can learn more about ‘Glad You’re Here’ and purchase it here.