Through the years, songwriters Shawn Camp and Verlon Thompson have written songs for artists like Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley and Garth Brooks. But on a recent afternoon, they weren't looking for a new song — they were looking for the best Mexican food in Texas.

So of course they called Texas native Tracy Byrd.

“This ended up being a 3.5-hour lunch,” Byrd recalls with a laugh during a recent interview with Taste of Country. “We started talking about the writing sessions that have gone to recently and they were telling me that there is actually a beat guy now who is purely there to tap out a beat on some computer pad. I couldn’t believe it. We used to have a guitar player for that. It was hilarious to me!”

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And while it might be hilarious, it is the reality of Music Row today — something that Byrd feels is a result of the hip-hop influences on modern country music.

“I won’t argue that the country music of today is catchy and hugely popular,” the hitmaker admits, “But it’s vastly different from what we did.”

Byrd is currently touring the country in a celebration of the 25th anniversary of his hit song “Holdin’ Heaven.” Luckily, fans are also getting to catch the traditional melodies of songs like “Watermelon Crawl,” “Big Love,” “I’m From the Country,” “Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo,” “Drinkin’ Bone” and “The Keeper of the Stars” live. As far as Byrd is concerned, it’s a sound that country music fans are still craving.

“I go out every night after the show and sit in my merch booth and sometimes, that meet-and-greet lasts longer than the show,” he reveals, chuckling now. “Fans are telling me that they are not getting what they are craving in today’s country music, so they come and see guys like me to get their fix. I mean, our band features a steel guitar and a fiddle. Those things are hard to find these days.”

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