Byrd flying

ANIKA VAN WYK

, Last Updated: 3:03 PM ET

Tracy Byrd is a country boy through and through, and he's not afraid to shout it from the mountain tops -- or at least on his new CD, I'm From The Country.

The Texan loves to hunt and fish and his music definitely leans to the traditional side.

"I love hard country songs. I could cut a whole album of it, but I don't know if pure, straight-ahead country songs are commercial enough," Byrd tells the Sun during a telephone interview from his Texas home.

The current single I'm From The Country has already found its way into the Top 10 and Byrd says he hopes the traditional country song Gettin' Me Over Mountains also gets the chance to be a single.

Because the trend in country these days tends to have the pendulum swinging back toward the traditional, the song may just get the chance.

"(The trend) is trying to build, but every time it gets ahead, another big pop-country act comes out and it knocks us back," says Byrd, whose hits include Holdin' Heaven, The Keeper Of The Stars and Don't Take Her, She's All I Got.

"Bryan White -- there's nothing real country about him and he'll be the first one to admit that.

"Yet (acts like White) energize the business on a whole, which is good for all of us."

Gettin' Me Over Mountains is also the only song on the CD that Byrd has a writing credit on.

"I actually wrote a bunch of songs, but not enough good ones," he admits. "Some are pretty good, but they didn't stand up or fit into the style of song I was looking for."

So is it hard to leave your own songs on the cutting-room floor?

"It's harder for me, for some reason, to put my own songs on an album.

"It would be better financially, but I don't want to weaken the album.

"Other songs are so fresh to my ears and so they edge mine out."

As his hobbies of fishing and hunting prove, music isn't the only country thing about this singer.

"I love the simplicity of country livin'. It's a laid-back kind of life and I'm a laid-back sort of guy," Byrd says.

"I also like open spaces -- I hate being cramped."

To keep himself happy and in the lifestyle he prefers, Byrd has resisted the temptation to move to Nashville, choosing instead to stay in Texas.

"There may be a few things I might miss out on here and there by not being in Nashville, but overall I think it's vital for me to stay in Texas where I grew up and around all our family.

"I love the people around here and that more than makes up for what I might miss."

Unfortunately, one thing he didn't miss getting caught up in was the scandal of his friend Tracy Lawrence, who has been convicted of battery stemming from a quarrel last September with his wife, Stacie.

Lawrence's record label Atlantic Records Nashville subsequently suspended him until he went through counselling.

"He's doing alright and getting over it," says Byrd of his friend whose wedding he sang at.

"He knows he made a mistake and I think he's sorry for it.

"He's as good or better than anyone and he has a good heart."

Lawrence has been quoted as saying: "I did slap her, but I didn't punch her. I don't want to be projected as Attila the Hun. There is such a thing as mental abuse in a relationship and it's not always man to woman."

Byrd admits it's been tough standing by his friend with all the stories circulating.

"You don't know what really happened. I know what he says and what she said and who know what the truth is?

"He's not totally at fault, she had some hidden agendas and that's all I want to say about that!"


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