Thursday night (Oct. 31) in Chicago, I tried to get Tyler Farr to sing me "Caro Mio Ben" or some other opera song he learned from his years in vocal performance class. He said he would, because singing like that was like riding a bike for him, but he was worried he might pull a hamstring. So I let him off the hook. But he did let me badger him with questions about how he went from the All-State Choir guy to the "Redneck Crazy" guy.
"My mom got me into voice training in seventh grade," he said. "I was always singing, so she knew I could sing. I made it to the Missouri All-State Choir, then National Choir, too."
Farr sang tenor when he made it to the prestigious All-State Choir his senior year.
"You'd go perform a piece, and they'd judge you on diction and vocal tone," he said. "And pronunciation because a lot of the songs I'd sing were in Italian."
He said he never liked going to his voice lessons, but it eventually led to choir camp, which had a very distinct advantage for Farr -- the ladies.
"The girl-to-guy ratio at those things was great, and I saw an opportunity," he admitted. "I was 15 years old, and football and girls were the only things on my mind."
So after all the lessons and choirs and camps, Farr got a scholarship to study vocal performance at Missouri State University.
"I knew I wanted to be a singer, but I was minoring in wildlife conservation and management," he said.
He wasn't sure what kind of singer he'd end up being, but since his mom had married a musician who was lead guitarist in George Jones' band, it meant Farr was spending time on the road soaking up all that country music.
"I fell in love with country music standing on the side of that stage," he said.
And he went on to fall in love with the music of Vince Gill, Vern Gosdin, Shenandoah and others.
"[Shenandoah's] 'Sunday in the South' is my all-time favorite song," he said. "And I love Hank Jr. I like that fact that with Hank, you never know what he's gonna do or say. That just intrigued me."
And then came "Redneck Crazy." It wasn't Farr's first single, but it was his first to hit No. 1.
"In a weird way, girls like it when a guy's that much in love with them. So much that he doesn't want anyone else to have her," Farr said of the song about going crazy when you find out your girlfriend's been getting some on the side. "It tapped into my emotions because I've felt that.
"Several years ago, I caught an ex cheating on me. The car was in the wrong driveway at the wrong time of night. I turned around and drove home and never talked to her again. But this song is what people want to do. It's sad, but country music's never been about sunshine and rainbows and flowers, and everything's just fine."