Back in October, Trey Lewis posted an Instagram video from a songwriters’ round at Nashville’s Listening Room when he was introducing his song “Believer.” The Birmingham, Alabama, native spoke sincerely about how he knew he didn’t have a ton of fans but was grateful for the ones he had made in a decade of writing songs in Nashville, and planned to keep right on going.
Less than two months later, Lewis has a surprise hit on his hands with the irresistibly catchy, decidedly NSFW “Dicked Down in Dallas.” Upon its December 1st release, the song immediately shot to Number One on the iTunes chart and still remains a fixture in the Top 30. Its success in streaming and sales, as well as on TikTok, also propelled it onto Rolling Stone’s Top 100 at Number 63, where it’s still climbing.
“Now that I said that a month ago, all this other stuff is happening with a song about dicks and butt-fucks,” Lewis says, laughing. “It’s super crazy.”
“Dicked Down in Dallas” starts out innocently enough. There’s a popular country trope of a woman who has left and is on the move, possibly in Amarillo, and bound for Memphis. The minor-key chord choices, along with the dusty melancholy of the recording, give it an air of familiar heartbroken country balladry — that is, until you reach the chorus.
“She’s gettin’ dicked down in Dallas/Railed out in Raleigh/Tag teamed in Tennessee/Anal in Austin/Butt-fucked in Boston/Givin’ neck down in New Orleans,” Lewis sings, in 2020’s biggest “Did he really just say that?” musical moment not titled “WAP.”
Though he’s been writing songs since he got sober at 19 and taught himself to play guitar, Lewis wasn’t one of the composers of “Dicked Down in Dallas.” That credit (or, perhaps to some, blame) goes to his friends Matt McKinney, Brent Gafford, and Drew Trosclair.
“The song was supposed to be like ‘She’s going back to Dallas,'” McKinney tells Rolling Stone. He’d written the first verse years ago in college and was trying to finish it one day with Gafford. “We hit a wall and didn’t know how to hit it from the best angle. [Gafford] jokingly said, ‘She’s dicked down in Dallas.’ We were laughing so hard, we pulled our buddy Drew Trosclair in on it.'” McKinney came up with the idea for the cities and their alliterative sex acts.
An early, incomplete demo of the song was also being shared around their community of songwriter pals and made its way to Lewis.
“Somewhere around March, [McKinney] sent me a finished version,” Lewis says. “It became a campfire thing. It’s one of those songs that when the chorus hits, it’s like, ‘Let’s go, baby!’”
“I’m not afraid to write songs that are relatable, as breakups go. So when I heard the song, I don’t think it’s straight filthy”
Their friendly pandemic sing-alongs eventually turned into Lewis playing “Dicked Down in Dallas” for a local writers’ round presented by the In the Round podcast, and from there its reputation began to grow in leaps and bounds. A TikTok of Lewis singing the song in early November shows an entire crowd who already know all the words; as of today, that clip has 1.5 million views. There are also a series of reaction videos of Lewis playing the song for unsuspecting strangers on the street, nearly all of whom fall out at that first chorus.
Lewis decided to cut the song for himself, knowing McKinney — who recently released his own tune “Growing Up” — and Gafford — who records as the duo Charlotte Pike with his wife — weren’t going to do it.
“Honestly, I think it’s a love story,” Lewis says. “I’m not afraid to write songs that are relatable, as breakups go. So when I heard that song, I don’t think it’s straight filthy — I just like that it says she’s doing all these things, and the guy’s like, ‘But I’m praying she’ll come back to give me that sweet ass.’”
“We were like, ‘Oh my god, that’s the guy. That’s who the song was meant for,’” McKinney says of Lewis recording it. “I started seeing it go a little crazy on TikTok but I didn’t expect it to shoot to one. If anybody told you they saw that coming, they were bald-faced lying.”
A close listen does raise the possibility it’s more about the guy’s insecurities that his ex has moved on in spectacular fashion and that he’d still be willing to take her back — if she wasn’t being satisfied elsewhere. Lewis, with his big personality and penchant for writing serious, contemplative material like “Whole Lotta Nothin” and “Whiskey Miss Me,” has the gift of selling the song without it coming off like parody.
“It takes a certain kind of person to be able to pull off what Trey has done,” McKinney says. “The best part is, people are so infatuated with this song that Trey didn’t write, but he’s a phenomenal writer and the more he releases, people are going to be really drawn back at how good his deep stuff is.”
McKinney grew up in a religious family and he says he’s heard some disappointment for his role in creating “Dicked Down in Dallas.” But most of his family are at least glad to see that it’s opening doors for him, he says. “I’d say the vast majority of my family are not super fans of the song, but they’re more happy for the opportunities it’s presented me.”
As for Lewis, “Dicked Down in Dallas” has changed his fortunes. While the pandemic has largely kept him from playing concerts, it made the conditions possible for him to turn this funny and filthy song into a hit. Now he’s having to contend with levels of success and fame he’d only imagined.
“You always dream of what kind of person you’ll be when you have this level of success,” he says. “Then it happens and you’re like, ‘Well, I’m still the same person.’ I just have a hit song on my hands. It’s hard to wrap my head around it still.”
On Saturday, Lewis will sing “Dicked Down” at the Southern Junction, a nightclub in, you guessed it, Dallas.