Rolling Stone calls him “Nashville’s most badass songwriter” and “one of [it’s] most vital artists." Travis Meadows arrived in Nashville in 2002, “I was 38, a late-bloomer.” His journey on the cathartic road of music started much earlier. He began writing at age 8. Nothing will stop him. Cancer, addiction, family deaths, industry hurdles - he has battled and beaten them all. He is on a quest: to make sense of the world through music and lyrics, to live the balance between the anxiety that plagues him and the performance he is born, soul-driven, to give.
He will, as his song Hearts I leave Behind beautifully incants, “find what others rarely find/conscience clean and peace of mind/ a life like a bookI’m proud to sign.” If you haven’t heard of him, you have heard his songs: Better Boat for Kenny Chesney, Riser for Dierks Bentley,The Snake and Knives of New Orleans for Eric Church, What WeAin’t Got for Jake Owen and Worth the Wait for, sizzling new star, Lindsay Ell. His cuts are industry and household show-stoppers. Go to your music source/library of choice and listen to Sideways, Hearts I Leave Behind, What we Ain’t Got, Wide Open and then come back and read this article. The way to meet this genius, award-winning songwriter, is through his words, his music and the raw feeling he lives and transmits through his journey and tireless curation of lyrics and heart. Joe Galante, former chairman of Sony Music Nashville, extols, “Travis paints a very vivid picture with his lyrics... once you hear his music, you are a fan for life. ”“2002-10 was just a nightmare,” Travis describes his downward spiral into loss. “Lost a house, a marriage, cars, went to jail, rehab 4 times.” At the end of his last rehab, he was challenged by his counselor to keep a journal. “I couldn’t keep a journal, but I could write songs.” Out of that came an album “Killin’ Uncle Buzzy”and 9 months (now many years) of sobriety, “a world record for me,” Travis declares with the same brutal honesty that makes his music so powerful. “That record started growing legs and getting in famous peoples’ buses and so I turned into an artist again.”
He pens notable cuts for Eric Church, Hank Junior, Merle Haggard, Wynona, Lynyrd Skynyrd, to name a few. “I’m not disappointed by a single cut. I don’t write truck songs and goofy songs. There’s no plan B, no looking back, nowhere to go. It has to work.” He calls his hard years the “fuzzy years.” “Sometimes I don’t knowhow I feel about something until I write about it.” Travis wrote“God Speaks (to me through you)” for his counselor. That is what he would be if he wasn’t a singer/songwriter, a counselor helping others. He donates his time to MusiCares, a philanthropic arm of the Recording Academy NARAS, and the rehab facility CumberlandHeights, which he credits with his life. Of his path to hitmaker and living in the present, “I kicked into survival gear. I had a little boy. I didn’t want to die.” His son is now 16 and they are very close.
Travis is fresh off touring his latest album “First Cigarette” and ready to get back to writing. He is the rare combo of prolific and potent. When he got his publishing deal at Universal, he says, “a well opened up inside my heart” and he wrote a song a day for 8 months. His process is painstaking. “I toil and labor over words in my own songs to the point that I find it very difficult to listen to other people’s words without critiquing. So I listen to Mozart....no words.” His sense of humor is an elixir he doles out with a poet’s facility of language: side-splitting, gut-wrenching. Travis has major fans.“I have a really, truly engaging, music-loving, lyric-loving, song-loving, intelligent following. They are small but mighty. So we have a lot of meaningful moments. ”He describes the best ones on stage as the times when it all clicks. “Sometimes the crowd is eating it up, but you are not there. You are kinda phonin’ it in.Then there are times you are in the zone and the crowd is not with you. Then come the magical moments when everybody goes there together. And it’s the closest thing to God walkin’ in the room.”
Travis’ catalogue is mighty as well. UMPG,Mighty Isis Music and current publisher BMG continue to mine his well of songs for gold. Desperation taught him guitar. He remembers watching a tip jar fill up for a singer in Gatlinburg, Tennessee when he was about 18. He took the lunch gig. He knew 3 songs. “The next day I knew 5.” He found his talent. “I found my voice and I figured out what I wanted to say with it.”The rest is an ongoing tale of cut-to-the-bone, hit-making history. Next up he just wants to “write something really honest. The songs will come. Just sitting down and waiting is the hardest part.”Travis knows that in life if you “Push it down it comes out sideways.” His songs not only connect full-on with the fiber of universal truths, the stuff we all navigate, but they teach and light the way. From darkness comes light. Songs to survive. Songs that soar.