It’s no coincidence that Granger Smith’s Remington album is being released as close as possible to his father's birthday and the anniversary of his death. Since Chris passed away in 2014, the “Backroad Song” singer has felt his presence at every turn.

Sometimes, he'd even see the evidence. A pool of spilt coffee would turn into a heart. He’d see hearts in the sky. His brother, Tyler, would see them, too.

“He used to give my mom hearts all the time,” Smith says of his dad. “That was their thing. He’d draw hearts, write her a note and draw a heart. In the last two years, we see hearts everywhere."

Chris Smith was buried on his 62nd birthday, leaving behind broken hearts and at least one physical reminder of who he was and how he shaped his boys into adults — into good men. “Tractor” is the most personal song on Remington, available March 4. It’s the story of Chris and his Massey Ferguson 240, a tractor he rode every day of his life.

"Up on that tractor / Things might be faster in the world / But big wheels rollin' slow / Help you see what's important / What really does matter / Up on that tractor," he sings at the chorus.

A few weeks after his death, Granger and his two younger brothers noticed his fields were becoming overgrown and messy, so they tried to put the shredder on the tractor, just like Dad did. It wouldn’t start.

“It’s an older tractor ... he knew where he kept the oil and we literally had to go around the barn, retrace his steps, find where he kept this, find the nuances of the tractor. ‘Oh, he had the positive unplugged off the battery!’ The whole time I’m thinking either why didn’t I ask him, or why didn’t I listen when he told me.”

Adds the singer, “I was too busy.”

"Just like the dirt is black / So do the years fly by / He stayed at home with Mom / I traveled far and wide / And like a good man does / He listened when I called / I told him 'bout my crazy life / And all the things I saw / But when it was time to go / He wanted me to know." 

Smith’s "Tractor" is his home in Georgetown, Texas. The singer is a natural introvert who only embraces the stage when there are people in front of it to sing to. Otherwise, he prefers spending quiet time with his two kids, including 2-year-old Lincoln, a diehard tractor lover.

Wheelhouse Records

"Tractor" is symbolic of Remington in more ways than one. It’s a very personal song on a very personal album, but it’s also easy to access. That’s something Smith says he’s been working on as a songwriter — overcoming the stigma that comes with lyrics penned for the everyman. Years ago, Texas singer-songwriter Casey Donahew told Smith to quit worrying about what people on the side of the stage thought. Instead, Donahew said, focus on what the people in front of the stage think.

“I actually had an album I put out a couple of years ago called Poets and Prisoners and I was guilty of that a couple of times on that record,” Smith admits. "I really liked it and no one else did."

It’s probably no coincidence that this approach led to his first-ever No. 1 hit in "Backroad Song" — although, he may have gotten some help. Smith and his team learned the song was at the top of the charts on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day.

The day of hearts.

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