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by Linda Ryan

June 13, 2012

Source Material: Chris LeDoux, Haywire

by Linda Ryan  |  June 13, 2012

Released in 1994, Chris LeDoux's Haywire found the rodeo-rider-turned-country-singer hitting his stride. Before the album's shelf-life would peter out, LeDoux would claim three more Top 40 country singles ("Honky Tonk World," "Tougher Than the Rest," and "Dallas Days and Fort Worth Nights") and an album that peaked at 17 on the Billboard country chart.

Before all this, LeDoux had great success on the rodeo circuit, culminating in his bareback riding win in 1976. A true cowboy, he followed the rodeo for the better part of a decade, writing down impressions -- good and bad -- of that lifestyle all the while. By the mid-'70s, truckin' songs were quite popular in country music, and humorous tales of life on the road -- dodging the police, making deadlines and missing loved ones -- shot up both the country and pop charts. LeDoux noticed some similarities, and started writing songs about the road and the rodeo circuit. The blend of the two created a modernization of the classic cowboy song, and instantly made him an in-demand performer. By the time the singer signed with Liberty Records in 1990, he had already sold more than 220,000 albums on his own -- an unheard-of feat in the pre-Internet age.

Once he retired from the rodeo, Chris found it difficult to keep writing lyrics about life on the road, so he started accepting songs written by others; on Haywire, there is only one self-penned song. But through his covers we are able to see just what an amazing, nuanced singer he really is. On this 1994 release, he covered Bruce Springsteen's "Tougher Than the Rest" and Charlie Daniel's Band's "Billy the Kid." Here are more of the album's biggest influences and contemporaries.

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