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Little Jared James Byrd carries a lot of weight around the Tracy Byrd household. Even though the always-smiling Jared tips the scale at just 22 pounds and is only 8 months old, he's got dad Tracy, mom Michelle, sister Evee and brother Logan gladly doing his bidding.
"Jared's changed the family dynamics," confesses Tracy with a proud-papa grin. "Michelle's got more to do now, and Evee and Logan have added their little brother to their busy schedules."
Tracy is standing in the kitchen of his home in Beaumont, Texas, and life is swirling around him. From his high chair, Jared surveys the kitchen. Michelle's fixing a baked potato, Tracy's leaning against the counter and 5-year-old Logan is acting goofy to make his little brother smile. Evee, 8, is lying down upstairs with the flu, hoping the antibiotic shot she just got will make her feel better.
"Jared was a little Ã¢ÂÂsurprise,' " Tracy explains. "And since the day he came into the world last Sept. 3, he's been one of the greatest surprises of our lives. I held him almost all the time in the hospital for the first two days of his life. We had some sweet bonding."
Tracy smiles. "The kids keep Michelle and me busy when I'm home from the road. And they keep Michelle busy all the time. Evee's taking piano, playing softball, doing gymnastics, cheerleading and taking horseback riding lessons. Logan's doing T-ball and tae kwon do. With school on top of all that, the schedule we all keep is kinda crazy."
And there's the remodeling job on their two-story house.
"We started in the kitchen and gutted three rooms to make the new kitchen," explains Tracy. "Next we tackled the master bedroom and bath. So now I have big nice closet of my own and" -- he laughs -- "Michelle's got a bigger, nicer closet!"
This is Tracy's second successful remodeling job. Last year he partnered with local businessmen to renovate an old building in downtown Beaumont and create the Dixie Dance Hall, a 12,000- square-foot country and Western dance hall. "The Dixie Ã¢ÂÂ and the whole Crockett Street entertainment complex Ã¢ÂÂ is going great. We had Willie Nelson there recently, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Also John Conlee, Pat Green, Cory Morrow, Cross Canadian Ragweed and I've played there, too."
And Tracy's latest hit, "The Truth About Men," is adding another building block to his career -- it's his fastest-rising single ever. "It's a tongue-in-cheek look at what guys like to do and how they really are," he explains with a smile. "And it's meant for ladies to laugh at it as much as the guys." The song is the title track of Tracy's new album, due out July 1.
So Tracy, what lines in the song really apply to you?
"The one that says guys would rather pick guitars and work on cars than work on the problems in our lives fits me to a T," he admits.
Michelle has her own take. "The part about watching football on TV definitely applies to Tracy. But if I ask him if something I'm wearing looks OK, he won't just say it looks good so he can keep watching TV," a difference from the line in the song. She laughs. "He wouldn't let me go to Wal-Mart looking shabby!"
In his den watching a preview of his new "The Truth About Men" video, Tracy laughs at the antics of his buddies Andy Griggs, Blake Shelton, Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry, who all make cameo appearances "All those guys are crazy!" he exclaims, as scantily clad video babes dance across the TV screen. "And I can't thank them enough for singing on the song and for appearing in the video."
Tracy then reveals some truths about his buds.
"Andy likes to hunt, not golf, on his days off -- and also his days on and every other day he gets the chance. This boy hunts deer, ducks, turkey and elk when they're in season, and he coon hunts all year long.
"Blake is a hunter too, but, like me, he'd rather pick guitars and work on cars. He's just an easygoing country boy, but is one of the funniest guys you will ever meet.
"Eddie will flat drink you under the table! In fact, the first time I went drink for drink with him was back in '93 -- and I ended up, well, under the table.
"Now, Troy is a Ã¢ÂÂclothes horse.' This guy loves his clothes. He even said he was going to buy the outfit he wore in Ã¢ÂÂThe Truth About Men' video -- which was a pimp outfit!"
Tracy shuts off the video when Jared wakes from a mini-nap. As the proud father gets his infant son a cookie, it's clear who's running the Byrd household.
And that's the truth about babies.