The Cadillac Three Make a Case for Travis Tritt’s Comeback
If Travis Tritt isn't planning a comeback, he should be. After a high-profile television gig and two high-profile collaborations, it's clear he has fans along Nashville's Music Row. Does he have the fans across the country? Well, that's really never been in doubt.
"Comeback" probably isn't the right word, because Tritt has continued to tour over the last decade — he just hasn't recorded much new music, or even revisited hits in a meaningful way.
But where there are hit songs, there are rowdy country fans, and Billboard counts 20 Top 10 Tritt hits across his 13 year prime (1989 to 2002). This includes five No. 1 singles and several more just-misses that have become iconic. "It's a Great Day to Be Alive" never hit No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart, but it's still a radio staple today. The 2000 hit is one Miranda Lambert chose to close her Wildcard Tour stop in Nashville with last month. Lanco and Cody Johnson joined her on stage, and all three acts — plus their bands — seemed more than a little excited to be singing along.
In January, the Cadillac Three revealed that Tritt had signed up to sing "Hard Out Here for a Country Boy" with them. The song from the trio's new Country Fuzz album also features Chris Janson who — as singer Jaren Johnston tells it — just flat-out wanted in.
Tritt asked to hear some of Country Fuzz while on the road with the Cadillac Three, and "Hard Out Here for a Country Boy" is one he took to, so they agreed to cut some vocals on the back of the bus. "Janson calls me while he's singing it," Johnston tells Taste of Country, "And he says 'Send it to me, I wanna sing on it' without even knowing what it was."
Add Dierks Bentley and his Hot Country Knights to the group of contemporaries who've reached out to Tritt. They all team up for "Pick Her Up," a rowdy '90s inspired country song garnished with swag and innuendo.
"He's the best man," Johnston says of Tritt. "Great friend now and dude — idol."
Southern swagger, some classic rock sensibilities and fine songwriting made hits like "Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof" and "Here's a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)" special.
Tritt was as defined and road-ready as any of the class of '89. The 57-year-old never really went away, but he hasn't released a new studio album since The Storm in 2007 (although he has released live albums and at least one compilation). Now, with '90s country hotter than a pistol and lesser-known artists being plucked from obscurity for appearances, it seems like a good time for Tritt to resurface. If you watched him on the USA Network's Real Country, you know it wouldn't just be for irony's sake, either. The ear and the passion are there. His influence is important.
"Travis Tritt's the reason people like me and Drake White and all these singers that may not have felt normal in the country western genre, he made it OK, us hearing that as kids, so that's kind of a cool thing," Johnston says.
That's called trailblazing.
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