Tyler Farr was headed down Broadway in Nashville when he heard his current single “Redneck Crazy” on the radio for the first time. It was only fitting, being that Farr started out singing cover songs four nights a week at Tootsies Orchid Lounge on that same street only a few years before.
Farr grew up in Garden City, Missouri, a cattle farming community with no stop lights and no more than 1,000 residents. The turning point for him in music was when his mom married Dwayne Phillips, George Jones‘ lead guitar player.
“He asked me to go out for the summer with him on the road and spend a couple weeks out there. It pretty much changed my whole train of thought,” he told Radio.com. “Seeing a legend like George Jones singing the songs he did and singing them the way he sang with passion, and telling the stories the way he did…I remember getting goosebumps and that was it for me.”
After attending Missouri State University for two years on a vocal performance scholarship he decided Nashville was the place he had to be. So, he packed up the car, told his parents he was moving and started working at Tootsies where he flipped burgers and did “pretty much whatever they asked me to do,” he said. “I was broke, needed money. I got up one night to sing and that turned into four, five nights a week.”
But after a year-and-a-half stint singing cover songs for tourists he realized something was missing. While he loved performing and entertaining, he wanted people to hear his original songs. “I want to be a stylist,” he said. “I want people to turn on the radio and hear it and go, ‘Oh, that’s Tyler Farr.'”
Unsure of his next step, he moved back to Missouri to figure out a plan B and after two months he got the itch to go back to Nashville, but realized things had to be different this time around. “I didn’t want to go back to the bar scene, I wanted to be on the radio,” Farr said. “That’s when Rhett Akins called me and asked if we could work together and would I move to Nashville.” A week later he landed a songwriting deal and had his songs cut by Colt Ford and Joe Nichols.
While Farr’s first two singles “Hot Mess” and “Hello Goodbye” put him on the map, it’s his current single and first No. 1 hit “Redneck Crazy” that introduced him to the country world in a big way. But, the first time he heard the title of the song he wasn’t convinced it was for him.
“The first time I saw the title I was like, ‘Okay here we go. It’s another redneck song. I’ve heard it a million times,'” Farr explained. “The lady that pitched me the song said, ‘No. You need to listen to this. It’s different.'”
Farr soon agreed, admitting that there actually was something different about it. “It was haunting and edgy. I never heard a song put that way,” he said of the track, which tells the story of a man who starts throwing empty beer cans at his girlfriend’s window when he discovers her with another man. “I know people have felt this way, they just never said it.”
Having discovered an ex cheating on him in the past, he was one of those people who understood the urge to go a little crazy.
“I’ve never actually done the actions in the song, but I could relate to the emotions that went along with the actions,” he said. “I think a lot of people have been there at some point in their life.”
Farr’s come a long way from performing at Tootsies. His debut, Redneck Crazy– 11 songs that range from classic country to rock and even hip-hop–debuted at No. 2 on the country albums chart and was the biggest debut from a male artist in the genre this year. But it was that experience flippin’ burgers that convinced him he needed to write his own songs.
“A songwriter once said, ‘Just say it. Instead of trying to be all fancy. Just say what you want to say,'” Farr said. “That’s why country fans can relate to my music and ‘Redneck Crazy’ because they get that. [It’s] the realness, which is what separates country music from any other genre.”
Tyler Farr’s Redneck Crazy is available on iTunes.