THE STUFF DREAMS ARE MADE OF
TRACY BYRD article
By Weslea Bell
“It’s crazy, but I’ll dream almost nightly about this magnificent buck. I can see the whole thing happen. The deer comes in on this side, and he’s downwind of me. What’s my shooting range going to be, and what are my chances of hitting him?”
Tracy Byrd squints into the distance and moves his hands along the table to simulate the approaching prey. His voice escalates as the man versus beast scenario unfolds in his imagination. If you want to get to bottom of a man’s heart, just listen to his dreams.
Back in 1995 Tracy Byrd was
flying high, being reported as the “Next Big Thing” and hailed as Country
Music’s most exciting new talent. He had recently been spotted by a talent
scout at a
Tracy Byrd thinks big. He
doesn’t want to come out of the studio with an album that just sounds good. He
wants it to be music that will survive the ebbs and flow of popular affection,
music in the vein of Merle Haggard and George Jones. His commitment to
traditional music has always been the driving force of his performances, but
only recently has his career matured to the point of giving him almost total
control of the music that represents him. In the day of Country Music magazines
featuring Shania Twain and Alan Jackson standing back to back on their covers,
audiences and artists alike are faced with a decision to go one way or the
other with their musical taste.
first six years of
Humble and effacing as he
In his teen years
Even though a handful of
critics have called his earlier hits “trendy,” Byrd sees them as a little novel
but not wholly removed from his traditional intentions. Since the beginning of
his career striking a balance between mass appeal and solid traditionalism
hasn’t been easy. Right after the release of his LOVE LESSONS album,
With his switch from MCA to
RCA Records and his place in the producer’s chair for the very first time,
There’s so much more, in fact, it’s hard to believe there’s anything lacking at all. So many people come to Music City with the dream of “making it big” in the music industry, and they work at a grueling pace as long as their bank accounts, significant others and payback favors can last. A small percentage of those dreamers make it, meaning they get a record deal. Out of those lucky few, an even smaller percentage hear their songs on the radio or find their name on the Billboard charts.
It’s true that he doesn’t
hold back. Contrary to the typical image of a Country Music star, whose life
consists of walking on stage a couple times a week and belting out a few tunes,
Tracy Byrd keeps one of the busiest schedules imaginable. And he’s not packing
all his time with his beloved hunting trips either. At the end of March he
hosted the Tracy Byrd Homecoming Weekend, a bass fishing and golfing extravaganza
he founded in 1994 to raise money for local charities. He has raised more than
$350,000 for organizations like March of Dimes and Buckner Children’s Village.
He considers his annual homecoming event an opportunity to say thank you for
On May 24, 2000, at the Grand Ole Opry House Tracy is hosting “The Wonders of Wildlife Honors: a Concert for Conservation.” The two-hour primetime special will honor outstanding individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to Outdoor Conservation. These kinds of “extracurricular activities” are above and beyond his routine of producing number one hits, meeting the demands of over five million album sales to date, a string of top-five hits, and fulfilling his role as spokesperson for the TNN Outdoors program, which draws eight million viewers each weekend.
His most recent success is IT’S ABOUT TIME, an album that meets his personal standards for Country Music quality and one he’s been working toward since the beginning of his career. “It’s an album I’ve been waiting to make for a long time,” he grins.
There’s really no question about whether or not Tracy Byrd will continue to produce hit records, dedicate money to charities, host popular TNN productions, and all those other things he’s so darn good at, but let’s get back to the basics, the important stuff. Where will his hunting trips take him? He gives us a general idea. “I don’t go on safari hunts, but it’s something I would love to do. Ultimately, that’s what my retirement holds for me,” he says dreamily. “I don’t really have a place to put the animals; my wife doesn’t want animals all over the house, but I just want the experience of the safari.”
Hunting is more than an afternoon off for Tracy. “It’s just me and nature, me and the outdoors,” he explains. “There’s nobody to judge me out there; nobody even cares that I’m out there. In my life, there’s not a lot of times that are like that. There are very few times when I get the peace and solitude that I have when I’m in the woods.”
“I forget totally about business,” he says. “It’s an incredible experience. I’ve hunted a lot this year, and I’ve only shot once. I had to take a long shot, and I missed. It was a beautiful animal, and as disappointed as I was that I missed, I felt privileged. I watched that animal for over an hour. I felt privileged to watch him in close proximity in his world with him not knowing I was there. He didn’t even know I was there! I’ve seen and experienced beautiful animals every time I go out there.”
As long as Tracy keeps producing traditional, rich Country hits, he can spend as much time with nature as he likes. We just want him to come out of the woods long enough to satisfy his adoring fans – and to do his own laundry!
“I do love to sing, and I’ve been given the opportunity to make a living with it,” Tracy concludes. “As a result of that, God expects me to do something good with what I’ve been given, whether it be the charities or a benefit type of thing. Maybe one of the songs will have a profound effect on somebody. I am a role model. Sure, I may slip and stumble along the way, but the end result is that you need to do something good with what you’ve been given.”