Close-up: Tracy Lawrence |


Close-up: Tracy Lawrence

''Sticks and Stones'' didn't hurt the country singer, it took him to No. 1

Fourteen bucks,” says Tracy Lawrence, staring disbelievingly at the room-service hamburger he has ordered on his first visit to New York. Paying for the burger shouldn’t be a problem, though. In January, Lawrence, 24, scored a No. 1 country hit first time out with ”Sticks and Stones,” a wounded-but-proud honky-tonk tune that has made him an immediate contender among Nashville’s new breed of freshly scrubbed cowboys. (Lawrence’s second single, ”Today’s Lonely Fool,” is scaling the country charts as well.) ”Country’s changing,” says Lawrence. ”It isn’t just cry-in-your-beer music. You can have a good time with it, too.”

Born in Foreman, Ark., Lawrence played in country and Top 40-cover bands before moving to Nashville in 1990. His career almost ended before it began when he was shot four times in an attempted holdup in Nashville last May. ”I was bitter, but I’m not gonna let three guys who wanted drug money or whatever & let me condemn the whole world.” Will he turn the incident into a song? ”I’m sure I will,” he says, and smiles. ”I have to.”