100 Greatest Men: #69. Travis Tritt

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

A famed member of the Class of ’89, Travis Tritt suburbanized the Outlaw sound for a broad new country music audience.

Born and raised in Georgia, Tritt received tremendous pressure from his parents to choose a more stable career path.   He tried playing by the rules, but this led to a rotation of menial jobs and two failed marriages by age 22.   While working for an air conditioning company, he was encouraged by its vice president to follow his dream.  Tritt quit, and devoted himself to music.

By then, it was the early eighties.  Tritt demonstrated raw talent, and caught the attention of a Warner Bros. executive early on.  But it took him most of the decade, recording demos and performing live, for him to secure a record deal.  But when his debut single hit in 1989, it was an instant hit.  “Country Club” kicked off a string of major hits that would continue until the early 2000s.

Tritt was one of a handful of young men to break out in 1989, and he distinguished himself as the one who carried the torch for the Outlaw music of the seventies.  But his brand of country, mixed with southern rock, was notable for how it sanded down the edges.  His attitude songs were clever, but tame.  He advocated putting drive in your country, and told girls ‘Here’s a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)”, but there were no hints of hard drinking, wild carousing, or anything that would normally warrant jail time.

His rougher songs helped shape his image, but radio (and fans) responded most strongly to his ballads.  All five of his #1 singles were plaintive tales of love, usually describing a man who has made mistakes or had trouble expressing his feelings, and is indebted to the woman who allows him to be vulnerable.  He coupled the best of these songs with powerful music videos.   He played a paralyzed vet in a trilogy of videos that began with the landmark “Anymore”, appeared as a prisoner in “Best of Intentions,” and was even a guardian angel in “Foolish Pride.”

Most of his work for Warner Bros. resulted in platinum records, but when the hits faded at that label, he had a second act as a star for Columbia Records in the early 2000s.  His first album for them, Down the Road I Go, went platinum and included four top ten hits.  Later releases failed to reach the same heights, and he departed after releasing the critically acclaimed My Honky Tonk History in 2004.

Most recently, Tritt explored his blue-eyed soul side with the 2007 independent release, The Storm.  He remains a popular touring act, and his influence can be heard on a new generation of country artists, including 21st century hitmakers like Montgomery Gentry and Eric Church.

Essential Singles:

  • Help Me Hold On, 1990
  • Here’s a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares), 1991
  • Anymore, 1991
  • Lord Have Mercy on the Working Man, 1992
  • Foolish Pride, 1994
  • It’s a Great Day to Be Alive, 2000

Essential Albums:

  • It’s all About to Change, 1991
  • T-R-O-U-B-L-E, 1992
  • Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof, 1994
  • Down the Road I Go, 2000
  • My Honky Tonk History, 2004

Next: #68. Mark Chesnutt

Previous: #70. Ferlin Husky

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

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8 Comments

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8 Responses to 100 Greatest Men: #69. Travis Tritt

  1. It wasn’t until recently I gained a deeper appreciation for “Foolish Pride.” I never really understood the song when I was younger, but I love it now.

    His uptempo material (“T-R-O-U-B-L-E,” “Lord Have Mercy On The Working Man,” and “Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof”) has aged very poorly. They may be good lyrically, but have horrid production values that haven’t held up over time.

    It’s too bad he wasn’t able to keep his momentum going longer after Down The Road I Go. That album had some fantastic singles, even if “It’s A Great Day To Be Alive” has been overplayed, and should’ve been a second wind in his career. But in the direction country music has taken in the last ten years, it’s hardly surprising he’s been ignored.

    “I See Me” (From My Honky Tonk History) was a great song that should’ve done better. My local country station plays it on occasion and I always enjoy hearing it.

  2. bobNo Gravatar

    With most of my favorite artists, I gravitate more to their ballads. With Tritt, it’s the opposite. I love his fun or up-tempo songs:

    “Country Club”
    “Trouble”
    “Ten Feet Tall & Bulletproof”
    “Modern Day Bonnie & Clyde”
    “Bible Belt” (from My Cousin Vinny)
    “Take it Easy” (from Common Thread)
    “I Finally Passed the Bar” (duet w Michael Peterson)
    and finally, from The Storm, his cover of Richard Marx’s “You Never Take Me Dancing”

    My favorite Tritt ballad is his duet with Lari White, “Helping Me Get Over You”.

  3. Mike J.No Gravatar

    I agree with Jonathan P, the earlier poster that mentioned “I See Me.” It really is too bad that his radio momentum had subsided by the time that single came around; that same concept has been recycled since and done well on the charts despite not being half the performance that Tritt gives. Always thought that particular song should have been a top five hit, but it simply wasn’t to be – I was also somewhat fond of the second single off his most recent CD, titled “Something Stronger Than Me.” His label was having trouble with everything by that point and barely supported a song that could have/should have gotten more radio play. Travis has always been a great live performer and if you have a chance to see him live, I would recommend it highly.

  4. Motown MikeNo Gravatar

    For what Jason Aldean could be and should be see Travis Tritt. Please reference Page 69 of the Country Universe book on Great Male Country Singers.

  5. RichardNo Gravatar

    I would add “Love Of A Woman” and “Where Corn Don’t Grow” as essential singles. When “Where Corn Don’t Grow” first came out I wasn’t a big fan but the more I listened to it, the more I loved it.

  6. Big, unapologetic Travis Tritt fan here. I like/love both his up-tempo songs and his ballads, even many of the overwrought ones.:) He has one of my favorite modern male voices in country music.

  7. TomNo Gravatar

    …same here, not that country music ever has been short of artists with distinctive voices, but being compared to travis tritt is no small compliment to talented artists like james otto or bradley gaskin. during the nineties he completed the cast of fine singers on country radio with his unique voice and the southern rock influenced sound of his music just perfectly.

    and “anymore” is right up there with the greatest “country classics” – in my opinion at least.

  8. RowdyRedNo Gravatar

    Yes indeed, Travis Tritt! I definitely miss him on the radio (and the reference to Jason Aldean is right on).

    It was “Girls Gone Wild” that seemed to torpedo his career; of all the songs to release to radio, why that??? Talk about stepping off a cliff; I don’t think I heard another new song from TT after that thing, and I have no idea how he made the choice to even record it, much less whoever chose it for a single.

    But for me, everyone deserves to make one big mistake. I would welcome new music from TT and hope he gets another shot. He sure could teach JA a lot about music.