In the mist of the double platinum success of T-R-O-U-B-L-E, Travis Tritt appeared on the tribute album Common Thread: Songs of The Eagles in which he tackled their debut single “Take It Easy.” Tritt took his version to #21 in late 1993, and it’s very good. Through the music video reunited the band, since they’d had a falling out in the early 1980s.This led to their 1994 comeback and Hell Freezes Over album and tour. Tritt’s version of the song is his most heard single on country radio to this day.
He got back to business in March 1994, releasing the self-penned ballad “Foolish Pride” (it became Tritt’s fourth #1 hit) to kick off his Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof album, another double platinum success. The track is a masterpiece, dissecting both sides of a couple’s painful breakup. I especially adore how Tritt really digs deep into the man’s feelings in the second verse:
He relives every word they spoke in anger
He walks the floor and punches out the wall
To apologize to her would be so simple
But instead he cries I’ll be damned if I’ll crawl
If he loses her he’s lost his best friend
And that’s more then just a lover can provide
So he wrestles with emotions that defeat him
Chalk another love lost up to foolish pride
Growing up I’d always disliked the black and white video for the song because I just didn’t understand the ghost-like aspects director Gustavo Garzon brought to the proceedings. Now that I’ve come to appreciate the song outside the video context, it’s become my favorite single of Tritt’s to date.
The title track, another Tritt penned solo, didn’t fare as well, peaking at #22. A direct pandering to the line-dancing craze at the time, the song sounds absolutely horrid nearly 19 years later. The production is a dated mess as is Tritt’s vocal. Along with “T-R-O-U-B-L-E” and “Lord Have Mercy On The Working Man” this is one of my least favorite of his recordings.
Keith Stegall and Charlie Craig co-wrote “Between An Old Memory and Me” and it peaked at #11 in late 1994. Keith Whitley originally recorded the song on his I Wonder Do You Think Of Me album and his version, which adds a nice dose of steel guitar and far more twang, still stands as the definitive version of this song. Tritt does a very good job in his own right, but the more contemporary style pails in comparison to what Whitley did with the song.
Tritt started of 1995 with the album’s last single “Tell Me I Was Dreaming,” which he co-wrote with Bruce Ray Brown. Another very strong single from Tritt, it’s made even better by Gregg Brown’s production. He adds a haunting feel to the ballad about a man hoping the break-up with his wife isn’t really true. Brown only went wrong by adding the minute and a half long jam session at the end of the album version that feels a little self-indulgent and even more pointless.
The haunting aspects of the song work perfectly with the music video, the second in Tritt’s trilogy where he plays wheelchair bound war veteran Mac Singleton. The twist at the end, in which Mac’s wife Annie slips off the boat and dies while 8 to 9 months pregnant with the couple’s child, still haunts me to this day. I was 8 when it first made the rounds on CMT and it was quite traumatizing for me at that age.
Paul Overstreet and country songwriter Al Gore’s “Walkin’ All Over My Heart” sounds like it could’ve been ripped from any of Marty Stuart’s 90s albums, and while okay, the piano led arrangement and bluesy atmosphere just doesn’t do anything for me. The same goes for “Outlaws Like Me,” a Tritt original that pointlessly re-writes his own “Put Some Drive In Your Country.” Over the years Tritt has more than shown his rockin’ side, often with painful results, and he doesn’t need to sing about it in one song let alone two.
Stuart’s original “Hard Times and Misery” attempts to show off Tritt’s rockin’ edge, and it just doesn’t work. Tritt does have the voice for these types of songs, but they just plain do nothing for me whatsoever. The same goes for “Wishful Thinking.” Both songs are a mess, although “Wishful Thinking” is worse because of the louder drums and far more screechy guitars. I’m just not a fan of this side to Tritt’s personality.
As far as I’m concerned “No Vacation From The Blues” is aptly titled. I prefer Tritt to stick to the traditional country side of his persona, so songs like this do very little for me. I just cannot get into the structure of the song or the piano melody. I do like “Southern Justice” a bit more, but it pails to Tritt at his best.
Overall, Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof is a mixed bag. “Foolish Pride” and “Tell Me I Was Dreaming” are two of Tritt’s strongest singles, and easily the highlights of this set. The rest for me is just bleh, and I’m sure someone who appreciates the southern rock and blues style may really be able to get into the other tracks. I just can’t.
Tritt did rebound, however, with a cover of Steve Earle’s “Sometimes She Forgets” from his Greatest Hits: From The Beginning compilation album that August. It only peaked at #7, but it was far more to my liking. His #51 peaking cover of “Only You (and You Alone)” was just more of the same.
Grade: B (for Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof)