Born on January 27, 1968, Tracy Lee Lawrence cut his teeth on local honky-tonks before finding his way to Nashville and signing with Atlantic Records in 1991. Just before his debut album came out, he was shot four times after getting mugged at a hotel. The publicity no doubt helped to boost his debut album Sticks and Stones to platinum sales, in addition to sending its debut single (the title track) to the top of the country charts.
For his next four albums, he managed a consistent pace of four singles each, in addition to "Renegades, Rebels, and Rouges", a minor hit from the Maverick soundtrack in 1994. Major hits of his included "Alibis", "Can't Break It to My Heart", "Texas Tornado", and "Time Marches On", songs that paired his twangy voice with hard-country lyrics. His career continued unabated, with platinum albums and #1 singles to spare...
...until 1997, when a domestic abuse charge against his wife led to their divorce and an abrupt stop to his musical success. His then-current single "The Coast Is Clear" fell from the #26 position, and he was absent from the charts for nearly two years. Despite resurfacing in 2000 with "Lessons Learned", he got no other hits from the album of the same name. The closure of Atlantic's Nashville division in 2001 moved him to Warner (Bros.) Records to no success, although he got a stray hit in 2004 with "Paint Me a Birmingham" off DreamWorks Records. After they closed, he issued a Greatest Hits Album which consisted of re-recordings of his major Atlantic-era hits. All releases since 2006 have been completely independent, with none except for the first ("Find Out Who Your Friends Are") making any noise on the charts... and that song only did so because it got a remix featuring Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney.
Lawrence is known for his combination of traditional and mainstream '90s country, with a twangy voice and strawberry-blonde mustache not unlike Alan Jackson. Although he never reached the same level of superstardom as his peers, he still had an impressive run of hits from 1991 to 1997.
- Sticks and Stones (1991)
- Alibis (1993)
- I See It Now (1994)
- Time Marches On (1996)
- The Coast Is Clear (1997)
- Lessons Learned (2000)
- Tracy Lawrence (2001)
- Strong (2004)
- Then & Now: The Hits Collection (2005)
- For the Love (2007)
- The Rock (2009)
- The Singer (2011)
- Headlights, Taillights, and Radios (2013)
- Good Ole Days (2017)
- Made in America (2019)
Tropes present in his work:
- Added Alliterative Appeal: "Renegades, Rebels, and Rogues", his contribution to the Maverick soundtrack.
- Age-Progression Song: "Time Marches On" follows a married couple and their two children.
- Break-Up Song: "How a Cowgirl Says Goodbye"
- Cheap Heat: The lyric "I can listen to 'most any song the DJ has to play" in "Used to the Pain" was subject to edits that changed "the DJ" to the name of the station playing the song.
- Nepotism: Referenced in "Somebody Paints the Wall": "Like last week down at the factory, I was up for a promotion / But the boss's little brother got the call."
- [Popular Saying], But...: Present in "Sticks and Stones", which has the lyric "These sticks and stones may break me / But the words you said just tore my heart in two".
- The Power of Friendship: "Find Out Who Your Friends Are":You find out who your friends are
Somebody's gonna drop everything
Run out and crank up their car
Hit the gas, get there fast
Never stop to think
"What's in it for me?"
Or "It's way too far"
They just show on up
With their big ol' heart
You find out who your friends are...
- Telecom Tree: In the video for "Find Out Who Your Friends Are", a man's truck breaks down and he calls a friend... who calls another, and another, until several friends descend on the man at once.
- The Not-Remix: Then & Now features re-recordings of his Atlantic Records hits since he was on Mercury Records at the time of the album's release. These re-recordings were intended to sound as close to the original as possible, even having the same producer (James Stroud) and some of the same session musicians.
- Tick Tock Tune: "Time Marches On" appropriately uses a ticking clock sound throughout.
- Time Travel: He had a series of music videos that featured a time travel storyline linking them, with each video transporting him to a new time period and setting at the beginning. These videos were "If the Good Die Young", "Renegades, Rebels, and Rogues", "I See It Now", "As Any Fool Can See", "Texas Tornado", "If the World Had a Front Porch", "Is That a Tear", "One Step Ahead of the Storm", and "Life Don't Have to Be So Hard".
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Paint Me a Birmingham" goes up from G-flat to A-flat at the last verse.
- Vocal Evolution: His voice became slightly higher and thinner after the beginning of the 21st century. The change is particularly notable on Then & Now: The Hits Collection, which contains re-recordings of some of his biggest hits.
- "When I'm Gone" Song: "If I Don't Make It Back" is about a soldier telling his friends what he wants them to do should he not come back from active duty. A Wham Line indicates that he doesn't come back.
- You Never Did That for Me: "I See It Now"