Byrd watching

RICK OVERALL

, Last Updated: 3:03 PM ET

Texan Tracy Byrd is a prime example of a country star whose wise choice of songs has led to an unending climb up the charts.

His current summertime anthem I'm From The Country continues along a trail he's blazed with the likes of tunes as diverse as Watermelon Crawl and the tender ballad The Keeper Of The Stars.

"We take a full year to write songs and listen to demos to try to find the material that suits our style," Byrd explains from home in Beaumont, Tex.

"Being a big George Strait fan growing up what impressed me so much about him was the listenability of his albums. The tunes rolled and flowed -- there were swing songs and ballads and lots of variety. I learned from my hero George that although ballads are great, you shouldn't have a record that's top heavy with ballad sounds -- you need a little tempo."

In fact, Byrd admits the current hit and title track wasn't even on the original album track run.

"We'd cut it and named it Walkin' The Line after that little mid-tempo swing song we got on there. But after listening again I realized we needed another uptempo song.

"So we cut the title cut and it turned out to be a big hit for us -- so you never know."

Byrd says I'm From The Country evolved a lot from what it sounded like on the demo.

"We'd considered the song for my Big Love album. It's written by Marty Brown (who is real country) and Richard Young (guitar player for The Kentucky Headhunters). The demo featured Richard and some of The Headhunters with Marty singing -- so it sounded like some kind of rockin' bluegrass thing.

"I knew when I heard it that the song was a hit but I just didn't know if I could make it mine."

That's where studio musicians come into play on a session.

"You know, studio musicians are the unsung heroes of Nashville. They were totally involved right from the signature guitar lick to start it off. The whole band was heavily involved. We got in there and fiddled around with the arrangement a bit and it came out sounding like a hit."


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