The Story Behind the Song: Walker Hayes, “You Broke Up With Me”

Photo courtesy Monument Records

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Videos by American Songwriter

Kylie Sackley
Thomas Archer
Walker Hayes

Title: “You Broke Up With Me”

Written by: Walker Hayes, Kylie Sackley, Thomas Archer

Recorded by: Walker Hayes

Producer: Shane McAnally

Peak Chart Position: No. 9 – Billboard Hot Country Songs


Walk us through a typical day in the life of Kylie Sackley? 

A typical day starts with a hike. I love being out in nature…it centers me and gets my creative mind ready for the day. I find it helps me sift though life thoughts, which usually turn into songs. I’m pretty much a 5 day a week writer, as much as I try to scale back and find balance. I write at 11am most days, somewhere tucked in a dark studio on Music Row most likely and some days I write doubles not entirely by choice (these days are very taxing mentally) but by market demand. There are so many new artists, and you’re trying to get in on the ground level so you will have that writing relationship throughout their career as they skyrocket, or at least that is the hope. Often after writes you’re trying to fit in studio time to sing vocals, or co-produce an artist’s vocals so it’s truly never ending and most days are a good kind of crazy. Sometimes I go to shows after that to support my friends and after that fall into bed beautifully brain fried. 

When and where did you guys write “You Broke Up With Me?” 

I want to say approximately three years ago, maybe a little less. We were in Walker’s studio at [publishing company] Rare Spark Media…it’s called “The Shack” and it’s basically an old garage behind Rare Spark that has been turned into his vibey little writing space.  I remember it was a Friday and everyone was exhausted from a busy week but it taught me a valuable lesson in why, regardless of how you feel, you always try to show up. 

What inspired the song?

We threw song ideas around for a while, as you do in most co-writes unless someone walks in with a no brainer ready to go. Eventually Walker said, “Hey, I’ve got this idea – you broke up with me.” Thomas Archer and I looked at each other with a grin and said, “That’s our song.”  Who hasn’t had an ex situation like that? I enjoy how cheeky it is to play out live and people always freak out and visibly react. 

How has your overall experience been collaborating with Walker and Thomas?  

They are two of the greatest. Firstly, they’re wonderful human beings, which is the most important for me when I’m sitting in a room bearing my soul as a writer. They are both so witty lyrically…they understand the importance of phrasing and pushing boundaries and all round they just “get it.” 

Step outside the song for a moment. How would you describe the song as a music fan?

I’d probably say it was super sassy, pretty pop, and a total earworm that will haunt you lying awake at 3 AM.  


Could you tell us some of the song’s back-story? How much or how little did you edit it, during or afterward? Were there any phrases or lyrics you can remember that were especially tough to make a final decision on? 

Gosh it was so long ago it’s hard to remember, especially when you write a new song five days a week. I remember we fought hard for weird phrasing…we took a lot of time on that in particular, lots of inner rhyme schemes and melody was everything with this song. We stepped away from it and Thomas and Walker wound up putting the finishing touches on it and nailed it. So thankful for their talents. 

Did you guys demo it or simply worktape it? How did it wind up getting cut and becoming a single? 

Walker demoed it as we went along writing it in The Shack. He was laying down really cool beats and guitar parts. If you listen hard at the beginning of the song you can hear people talking. That’s from the original write in the room, and that was Thomas and I discussing the lyric in the background. That part always makes me smile. I love that he kept it. His team obviously fell in love with it and he recorded it for his Spotify EP [8 Track, Volume 1: Good Shit] first, and not long after that, I found out it was going to be his first single and was completely blown away with this news!


Who was the biggest cheerleader of the song, besides the writers?

I’m sure it was a joint effort from both of his teams being Smack [Songs] & Rare Spark Media. Usually you have to have everybody on board when you’re talking singles. 

What do you enjoy most about writing songs in general?

I’ve always maintained that I am first and foremost a lyricist. I started writing poems when I was 9 years old in my bedroom and they quickly turned to songs. I love words with a passion that’s hard to describe. I love painting pictures, I love the math behind words in songs, and I love weird words that no one else is saying. It’s truly a high when I nail a lyric I can’t find a hole in. Twenty plus years of doing this [and] I have fallen in love with melody and have become strong in that department…and for me, phrasing truly is everything. I will fight for its uniqueness till my co-writers are frustrated, but if you look at some of the songs I’ve had recorded, ‘”You Broke Up With Me, “Speakers” for Sam Hunt, or even “Nothin’ ‘Bout Love Makes Sense” for LeAnn Rimes back in the day…they have all pushed the limits of phrasing and I am so proud of that. I don’t wanna fit in; I want a Kylie stamp on my songs. 


Is there a particular period or moment in your career when you were faced with adversity or doubt and had to dig deep to stay the course?

Do you have all day? Ha-ha. Firstly, undoubtedly I can say, there isn’t a creative person on this planet who doesn’t doubt themselves. It’s part of what makes us crazy and gifted. That said, I’ve been a professional writer in Nashville for 16 years so I’ve had a few publishing deals…and every time that deal’s about to end, you’re riddled with panic about what the next step will be. This is such an industry of uncertainty and streaming has really taken its toll on the income of the professional writer…so I can say without hesitation that until we figure out how to fairly compensate the creators of the music you’re all listening to, there will be a cloud of doubt over all our heads. All I know is that the only thing I can control at this point besides spreading the word about this matter…is to show up, to have a good attitude and to leave it all on the page.


Do you have any advice for aspiring or newly professional songwriters?

Write 10. Write 50. Write 100. Write 1000. Keep writing. Keep learning.  Every day that you are writing you are becoming a better writer, whether it feels like that or not at the time. Go to shows, meet new writers and artists and publishers…make friends because these friends will become your people and your champions in spreading the word about what you do.  Join a P.R.O. BMI, ASCAP, SESAC. These people are dot connecters and incredibly important in your journey. Lastly, don’t follow the trend; you’re already behind it if you do. Do “you,” create your own sound and most importantly, write your truth. You think I didn’t have a couple exes in mind when I wrote “You Broke Up With Me?” Hell yeah I did [wink].

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