Travis Tritt‘s upcoming Set in Stone album marks his first new record in ten years, but he looked to one of country music’s biggest legends when choosing which songs to include on the project. The Georgia native reveals his late friend, Waylon Jennings, inspired many of the tracks on Set in Stone, especially one song.
“Waylon Jennings had a lot to do with some of the songs that I wrote on this particular album,” Tritt told Music Mayhem Magazine. “The song that starts it off is called ‘Stand Your Ground,’ the first song on this new album. And it’s a song about a conversation that took place between Waylon Jennings and I the first time I ever met him.”
That conversation occurred early in Tritt’s career, when he had a few hits, but was receiving backlash for his fourth single, “Put Some Drive in Your Country.” The song was criticized for not being country enough, and the negativity was beginning to bother Tritt, until he met with Jennings.
“The first time I ever met Waylon Jennings, he sat me down in his dressing room and he said, ‘Listen, I’ve been hearing all these things they’ve been saying about you. I just want you to know that everything that they’re saying about you is exactly the things that they said about me and Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash and Hank Williams Jr. and David Allen Coe.’ And he just went down the list. He said, ‘Just remember this, those people that work for those record labels and those people that work for those radio stations and program those radio stations, they get their music for free. They don’t pay a dime for music.
“‘The people that you should be concerned about are those hard working people that work hard, 40, 50, 60 hours a week to put food on the table for their families and put a roof over their heads,” he continued. “‘Those people are willing to spend a little bit of that money, that hard-earned money to buy your music every time you release something new. And those people are also willing to buy a concert ticket every time that you come close to their town. Those are the people that matter. And those are the only people that should ever matter.'”
Tritt shared that story with Wayne B. Durrett III and Channing Wilson, which resulted in “Stand Your Ground.” Tritt’s current single, “Smoke in a Bar,” is one of only three songs on Set in Stone that he didn’t write, but knew as soon as he heard it that he wanted to include it on the album.
“Tim Montana was one of the writers on that song, and as soon as he wrote it, he sent me a text,” Tritt recalled. “He said, ‘Listen, man, I just wrote this new song I wanted you to hear.’ And as soon as I heard it, it checked a lot of boxes for me. Because I’ve heard from people over the last 15 years about how they love a lot of the new music that’s coming out from a lot of the newer artists, but they also miss a lot of the connection to the roots of our music and the connection that people from my era, the music of the ’90s …In the past year, I’ve heard a lot of people that have said to me, ‘Man, wouldn’t it be nice if we could go back to a simpler time when there wasn’t all this upheaval and there wasn’t so much distrust of one against the other? And we would love to just go back to a time that was a little bit more simple, when the world seemed to turn just a little bit slower.’
“And so as soon as I heard ‘Smoke in a Bar,’ I thought, man, that’s exactly what the song is about,” he added. “It’s talking about the nostalgia, and there’s a lot of people that live in this country and others too that I think have a lot of nostalgia for a simpler time and a time when they grew up when there wasn’t so much stress as there is today.”
Jeremy Bussey and Derek George co-wrote “Smoke In a Bar” with Montana. Set in Stone will be released on May 7.