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Tracy Lawrence feels strong

By Jeffrey B. Remz, March 2004

Page 2...

Having a new label is not the only thing different for Lawrence who lives on a farm outside of Nashville in Mt. Juliet with his wife and two young girls.

This marked the first album he has not written one song.

"I tried to write, I just had a writer's block this time. My wife and I have started a family. We moved, and there was a lot of stuff going on. I guess I had too much going on in my life. I sat down with my writing partners, and I couldn't do it. I said I'm not going to force something that's not coming right now. I'm going to stop and back up and go back to the streets of Nashville and go to writers and see what they've got and just look at it through different eyes. I don't regret that. I'll do a lot more next time. My head wasn't in it."

Asked whether the writer's block period was difficult, Lawrence says, "It was. It was quite frustrating. I'd never experienced that before. I think it fell on the concept of me reinventing myself to a degree and not knowing how I should write this record for...I think this gave me an idea of where I need to go with my writing."

Not that Lawrence is complaining because he seems quite satisfied with the dozen songs found on "Strong."

The title track is also the first single. "The response from radio and everybody out there has been real good," he says, adding, "We got a lot of airplay around the country."

"Strong" is the type of song Martina McBride might sing from the lyrical standpoint. In other words, it's about a strong, single woman who forges her own trail.

"It's different than anything I've done in the past. This is the single woman's anthem. Divorced. Having a hard time with the dating scene. I thought it was such a great anthem for the working moms."

Lawrence, 36,describes "Stones" as "one of the more traditional things on the record."

And it came close to being the title of the album. But there was a bit of a marketing problem because Lawrence's first album was 1991's "Sticks and Stones," a big hit for him.

"These are the kind of songs that I have the most passion about recording," Lawrence says. "They have a good message in them. As a vocalist, I sink my teeth into the songs. I think I like the hard-core traditional aspect of it. That's where my roots come from. The Haggard story songs are where my foundation and appreciation for country music come from."

Lawrence was born in Atlanta, Texas and moved to Foreman, Ark. when he was about four.

"It's your typical small, extremely small, town, country life," he says."There wasn't even a red light. There were 1,200 people, a little tiny school. I went to the same school with the kids from kindergarten to 12th grade. Pretty much the same people my entire life. It allowed you a little bit more freedom to express yourself without getting in trouble."

"We didn't do anything bad, but we did (live) pretty hard. We started drinking too early. There wasn't much to do there. There was one cop in town, and you pretty much knew when he went to bed because he parked his car at the police station."

"I didn't like to go home," says Lawrence of his growing up years. "That was my problem from the time I was a young teenager on. I had my buddies. I hung with older guys. There was a lot of friction there (with my parents)."

Lawrence's mother had remarried a man who was a banker.

"I turned onto George Strait and Merle Haggard when I was about 12. That's when I started getting into my head that's what I wanted to do. There was nobody in my family that really played an instrument. I found that outside."

"When I was 14, I did a talent show in the county seat which was Ashtown, and I played my guitar and I played a Merle Haggard song ("Big City") and a song I wrote. There was a deputy sheriff named Gary. There were a lot of things around the area, which we called jamborees. A lot of times it was an old movie theatre that had been gutted out."

Various groups would play for the first hour with a house band closing the evening an hour plus set.

"Gary heard me on this talent show and took me under his wing," Lawrence says. "I became a regular on all of these things."

Lawrence wrote a lot of poetry during his high school years. "I really loved literature. I loved to write. I was very literary. I didn't do well in grammar. I understand Socrates and Shakespeare. It had a grasp for me."

Lawrence spent a few years at Southern Arkansas College on a music scholarship. While singing with the choir, Lawrence also continued playing with a band called Crosscreek, which he joined when he was about 16 or 17. They hit the honky tonks, VFWs, "all the rough dives and stuff."

"I knew I wanted to get into the music business. I didn't know exactly how to do it because I didn't know anybody. I started doing radio and TV production. That seemed to me the most logical way to go, but I didn't really enjoy it."

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