Travis Tritt ranks among the most respected modern practitioners of a tried-and-true sound. He looks to such smooth-voiced hell-raisers as George Jones for lessons in how to sound like a time-tested country music singer. Sprinkle in the rock ‘n’ roll swagger of a John Mellencamp, and you’ve got an artist capable of claiming his own piece of honky tonk history while still sounding relevant to the times.
Like Alan Jackson, Tritt rose from humble hometown beginnings in Georgia to become one of the toasts of Nashville and the country charts. Along the way, Tritt maintained a blue-collar, Southern image that makes him more relatable to fans than the average superstar.
This even dozen exemplifies Travis Tritt songs, with selections ranging from memorable duets to upbeat country anthems that resound with the common working man and woman.
Nothing brings back an old memory quite like a classic rock standard. Tritt exposed his music to others who grew up on the songs of the Eagles when he covered one of the band’s best country-influenced hits.
Two long time pals and like-minded performers threw one of the rowiest Marty Parties caught on tape. The rocking duet from the Restless Kind album forever tied together Tritt and Stuart’s musical legacies.
Another Restless Kind duet showed a different side of Tritt. Alongside singing partner Lari White, he took a shot at mirroring his country music heroes’ skill at wringing every last drop of emotion out of a sad, lonesome song.
Tritt’s statement of purpose came in this ode to past Nashville rebels, featuring guest appearances by Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams, Jr. All of these years later, it still works as a fair critique of mainstream country radio.
By cutting back on the Southern rock organ and turning up the country singer storytelling charm, Tritt somehow sounds even more like the modern-day sonic child of Ray Price and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Tritt performed more than just high-octane country songs. He also successfully tried his hands at more sentimental songs over the years, as exemplified by this mid-tempo number one hit.
It’s hard to imagine Tritt’s rocking live show and upbeat honky tonk singles without the influence of Southern rock. Here he pairs with West Coast roots-rockers Little Feat for a tongue-in-cheek nod to Tritt’s Christian upbringing.
Tritt’s best 21st century offering offers a pick-me-up on both sunny and cloudy days. In the wrong singer’s hands it might be too sentimental, but Tritt’s down-home image and drawl make it work.
This title track from Tritt’s 1994 album takes a different approach to sparking ballroom sing-alongs. It admits that some drunken bravado results from unfortunate cases of liquid courage.
Tritt captures the defiant and downright snarky spirit usually wielded by country music’s leading ladies on one of his best-known singles. He pulls this off with a chorus the kids might call a “sick burn.”
A traditionalist movement started by the likes of Randy Travis and Ricky Skaggs kept going strong with this 1990 cut. Even fans without historic reference points were charmed by the classic line about Dixie cups.
It’s hard to argue that Tritt’s signature song shouldn’t top any list of his greatest hits. Without his trademark spelling of “here comes bad news,” these other great songs would lack such a huge global audience.