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Heartland -- UPI Arts & Entertainment

Some may wonder what a guy who just hit No. 1 with a rowdy tune about tequila is doing singing about babies. For Tracy Byrd, it's simple.

"When I heard (the song), I loved it," Byrd, 35, said recently from his Beaumont, Texas, home about his new single, "Lately (I've Been Dreamin' About Babies)."

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Byrd, who is starting to call himself "a senior" these days as he celebrates a decade in country music, is barely missing a beat as he slides right out of a successful CD, "Ten Rounds," into a new project due in Spring 2003.

"Lately" is the first single off of his ninth album.

"It was a good time for me, with a new baby in the house," Byrd said of the subject matter for his new sing. His third child, Jared James, was born Sept. 3.

"The song, written by veteran Nashville songwriter/producer Regie Hamm, is about a guy who doesn't have any babies," Byrd said. "The song goes: 'I don't know what's gotten into me, but lately I've been dreaming about babies.'

"I've never heard anything like it," he said. "It's a fresh approach to a love song. Immediately, you'd think it would be cheesy. But it has a sexy, romantic feel to it. The melody is really romantic. The lyric is the same, but with a really wholesome value to it."

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Byrd is right to trust his instincts.

His last album, "Ten Rounds," for which Byrd picked every song, resulted in two Top 10 singles and a No. 1.

The No. 1 title track, "Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo," spent 26 weeks on the charts before arriving in the top spot. Byrd, however, never doubted that the song would make it. In fact, Byrd had company in thinking the tune was a chart-topper.

Garth Brooks wanted to record "Ten Rounds" for his latest CD "Scarecrow" and release the song as a single -- the same plan that Byrd had.

In the business, once a song has been recorded for an album, another artist can rightfully record it for their own project. Having the same song on the radio by two different artists at the same time is not a good idea, however.

"I finally tracked him down at his home in Oklahoma," Byrd said about discussing the matter with Brooks. "(Brooks) said 'I think it's a smash.' (But) he said 'You had it first.' He was a gentleman about it. And he was right, it was a No. 1 song."

Byrd admits he was not completely ready to put "Ten Rounds," the CD, up on the shelf and start work on a new collection.

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"We had some other things we believed in on the album," Byrd said. In fact, one song, "How Much Does The World Weigh" may find its way to the new project.

"How Much Does The World Weigh" is a powerful song, written by Larry Michael White and Lee Thomas Miller, about people in challenging circumstances.

"I listened to the demo about 40 times and each time I did, I'd tear up and get goose bumps," Byrd said in July 2001, when his eighth album was released. "Man, I like it when a song does that."

As 2002 starts winding down, Byrd will continue in high gear.

He's in the studio for a few weeks as he finishes recording the songs for the upcoming album. A photo shoot is scheduled for later this month and, of course, he has a number of shows planned.

Byrd is happy.

"We're on the verge of hitting another good stride that might take us through another 10 years," he said. "There's been changes in attitude and style and we've rode through and never changed ourselves. I haven't changed my style, I haven't changed my look. I am who I am. And I have a lot of fans who appreciate that."

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