Tracy Byrd Starter Kit

tracy-byrd1One of the side effects of the nineties boom was that every Nashville label started looking for young male acts that looked good in a Stetson and could sing with an accent.

The end result was that some solid talent was discovered a bit too early, before they’d fully refined themselves into artists. Tracy Byrd’s a great example of this. Only 25 years old when his first single went to radio, Byrd had been plucked from the Beaumont, Texas music scene that had groomed Mark Chesnutt.

Byrd’s hit material from the nineties was reflective of what the B-list hat acts recorded during that era, though his vocal charm helped him elevate middling songs from time to time. He also turned in a few gems, with his music getting far more consistent as he entered his thirties.

His last studio album, 2006’s Different Things, was excellent, but radio had already moved on to the new twentysomethings at that point, artists who will probably be making better music a decade from now and being overlooked for the new, new twentysomethings.

Ten Essential Tracks:

“Holdin’ Heaven”
from the 1993 album Tracy Byrd

When surprisingly strong sales greeted the release of Byrd’s debut album, radio jumped on board. This catchy tune briefly knocked Garth’s “Ain’t Goin Down” out of the top spot, though Brooks would return to #1 a week later.

“Watermelon Crawl”
from the 1994 album No Ordinary Man

The line dance craze taken to its absolutely goofiest extreme. This is as representative of the early nineties as it gets.

“The Keeper of the Stars”
from the 1994 album No Ordinary Man

This romantic ballad was the surprise winner of Song of the Year at the 1995 ACM awards.

“Walkin’ to Jerusalem”
from the 1995 album Love Lessons

One of the craziest choruses to hit country radio sounds like a Mideast geography lesson taking a detour through southern America.

“Don’t Take Her She’s All I Got”
from the 1996 album Big Love

There’s no question that Tracy Byrd knows his country music history, and he effectively revived this Johnny Paycheck classic for the nineties.

“I Wanna Feel That Way Again”
from the 1998 album I’m From the Country

You can hear that Byrd is beginning to mature and settle in to his voice. He wouldn’t have been able to deliver this as well on earlier albums.

“Put Your Hand in Mine”
from the 1999 album It’s About Time

Another mature record that deals with a father and son relationship being strained by the tensions between father and mother.

“Just Let Me Be in Love”
from the 2001 album Ten Rounds

A warm and romantic love song with a Spanish flavor. By this record, he’s almost an entirely different singer than the guy who once sang “Watermelon Crawl.”

“Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo”
from the 2001 album Ten Rounds

Two decades after Shelly West spiked sales of the titular drink, Byrd topped the charts with this entertaining track.

“Cheapest Motel”
from the 2006 album Different Things

A roving husband pays a far higher price in the end than the motel clerk charged him.

Two Hidden Treasures:

“Someone To Give My Love To”
from the 1993 album Tracy Byrd

Early evidence of Byrd’s affection for Johnny Paycheck surfaced with this cover featured on his first album. Despite only reaching #42, it helped stimulate sales of his debut set.

“Different Things”
from the 2006 album Different Things

It’s a shame that Byrd’s success and talent peaked in different decades. Nearly every track on his 2006 album, including the title cut, would make radio sound a whole lot better.


  1. It’s a shame that Byrd’s success and talent peaked in different decades. Nearly every track on his 2006 album, including the title cut, would make radio sound a whole lot better.”

    You’ve got that right !

  2. Tracy Byrd was never a favorite of mine and you hit all four of his songs that I like (Walkin’ to Jerusalem, Don’t Take Her She’s All I Got, Just Let Me Be In Love and Put Your Hand In Mine). I love the description for “Watermelon Crawl.”

  3. I think part of the problem is that he sort of got pigeonholed as a singer of ditties. I always wished that they released more of his slower songs as singles. His crooning vocal style suited them very well. “I Wanna Feel That Way Again” and “Put Your Hand In Mine” are my favorites on the list. My personal list would also include “Love Lessons” and “Heaven In My Woman’s Eyes.”

    One of my favorite albums of his is 1996’s Big Love which includes some of my other favorite songs from Tracy such as, “Good Ol’ Fashioned Love” “Cowgirl,” “If I Stay,” “Driving Me Out Of Your Mind,” and “I Don’t Believe That’s How You Feel.”

    1998’s I’m From The Country also included great cuts such as “Back To Texas,” “For Me, It’s You,” and “I Still Love The Nightlife,” which was written by Brad Paisley before he became famous.

    1999’s It’s About Time is another solid album with some of my favorites including “Proud Of Me,” “Ain’t It Just Like A Woman,” “Undo The Right,” “A Little Love,” and the title track.

    I agree that it is a shame that radio turned a cold shoulder on Tracy and other 90’s artists just as they were getting better. The difference is that most of the younger acts on the radio now are making much less interesting music.

  4. I definitely agree that Byrd’s voice matured and improved tremendously as he got older. For one thing, he stopped doing that cracking thing that always annoyed me on his earlier albums. I especially like the Acoustic Sessions of Different Things. It’s pretty much awesome. One of my guilty Byrd pleasures is “Pink Flamingos.”:)

  5. Leeann, do you mean the hiccup sound he makes at the end of certain notes? I guess I just got used to that and never really paid attention to it before. His voice has definitely gotten stronger, though.

    “Better Places Than This” should’ve been a comeback hit for him.

  6. I don’t own any Tracy Byrd music – he’s one of the few 90s acts I never got into. I could dig songs like ‘Watermelon Crawl’ and ‘Keeper of the Stars’ and ‘Big Love’, but he just never drew me in.

  7. Is there only one version of the Different Things album? When I looked in Amazon’s MP3 section, I only saw the Acoustic Sessions, but I always assumed that subtitle meant there was a non-acoustic version as well.

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