Morgan Wallen wasn’t even sure “7 Summers” was going to make the album. But he knew it was a good a song, so he decided to upload a guitar/vocal verse-and-chorus work tape onto Instagram to give the fans some music to tide them over.

He didn’t think much about it—not until TikTok lit up with people dancing to the song and doing their own versions. Suddenly, it was blowing up. Not just country-music blowing up, either, but blowing up to the tune of 4.6 million at Apple Music, while topping the country songs charts in both the U.S. and Canada, setting a streaming record for the genre that left everything else in its dust. It was the same story at Spotify, where the 3.3 billion career streamer debuted at #3 on the U.S. all-genre Top 200 chart and hit a new country one-day record of 2m+.

Big Loud’s Seth England, who’s been watching this supernova closely, of course, marvels, “Rarely would fans ‘rip’ a soundbite and make it their own on TikTok and other platforms—especially in country music. I think that speaks to what’s happening in general with Morgan. On most streaming apps, he’s Top 10 or even Top 5 all-genre in overall catalog consumption. That’s crazy to think about, and this ‘7 Summers’ rollout reminded us big time how rabid his base is.

“I love that the fans did that and proved it to Morgan,” he adds. “I think in some ways that’s how it supposed to be.”

Head down on the studio console, the young man from East Tennessee is aware of the explosion he set off, but right now, he’s trying to focus on finishing his album. Acknowledging that SMACK Songs’ founder Shane McAnally had the title the morning of the co-write with Josh Osborne, he points out that the smooth ’80s-style country song is based—at least in part—on a summer seven years ago back home.

“I was working for a landscaping company that summer,” Wallen recalls. “I got hurt playing baseball, was going to the community college—and that wasn’t going too well. So there might be someone out there, listening to this song on the radio and wondering if it’s about them.”

Perched somewhere in the zone between yacht rock and Restless Heart, “7 Summers” tells the age-old story of “poor boy loses ambitious girl.” Draped over a descending hook that is both yearning and inviting, the lines of the chorus nestle into each other in an evocation of what was, as Wallen sings, “I know we both knew better/But we still said forever/And that was 7 summers/Of Coke and Southern Comfort/Were we just dumb or just younger, who knows?”

That reverie leads the song’s narrator to wonder where she is now, and whether she might be feeling the memory too. “You used to love the river/And sippin’ on a sixer with me/Does it ever make you sad to know/That was 7 summers ago.”

With a voice both porous and warm, Wallen becomes Every(young)man, especially the working-class kid left behind. Self-aware teens, tweens and twentysomethings know this ground all too well. When you add in the gently sweeping track and that honest-to-a-fault delivery, the song becomes a truth for so many kids who miss the feeling of time passing idyllically and life being good enough right where they are.

Whether it’s this summer ending or 7 summers ago, Wallen delivers the lyric with enough of a twinge that the pang feels real—and the track moves along with a creamy fluidity that hasn’t previously been heard on the big-boom party radio of today’s country.

As England puts it, “This song is just very honest, like most of Morgan’s music. And the fans can sense that. Songs never need to be a fan’s exact story to connect with a topic; I think they just need to believe the singer and empathize with them.”