Travis Tritt and Marty Stuart have different recollections of how their musical collaboration and friendship began, but Stuart's version has more detail. In 2017, Stuart told Weld for Birmingham:
“The first time I heard [Tritt's] voice was in a drive-thru in a Burger King in Bessemer, Alabama,” Stuart said. “I had this song called ‘The Whiskey Ain’t Workin,' and I didn’t need it because I had already finished recording my record. Me and my buddy Ronny Scaife wrote it together and we pitched it to Hank Jr. [but he] didn’t hear it. He just didn’t think it was his song. But I just kept thinking, ‘Man, that’s a hit song.’
“So I was going through the drive-thru at Burger King and I heard this voice come through the car radio, and he was singing a song called ‘Country Club.’ And I thought, ‘Man, there’s the guy for that song. That’s a great voice.’ I sent it over to him; I had never met him. … And six months later it was on the charts, and it was a hit.”
Tritt may have received the song through a middle-man, because in 2016, Tritt recalled the first collaboration differently for Taste of Country:
"I called Marty and asked him if he would be a part of this particular project and he graciously agreed," Tritt said. "It was so cool because the No. 1 question I get asked is, 'When are you and Marty Stuart going to work together again?' We had so many hits together and we did so many great tours together and we had such a good time together. We're like twin brothers from different mothers."
However the relationship was born, its continued for nearly 30 years and produced a handful of honky-tonk classics. Here are The Boot's picks for their 5 best, so far:
"Don't Give Your Heart to a Rambler"From: 'It's All About to Change' (1991)
Stuart provides background vocals and plays guitar on this track from Tritt's 1991 album It's All About to Change. The song was originally written and recorded as a bluegrass song by Jimmie Skinner in 1949. Tony Rice did a popular version of the track on his 1977 eponymous debut. Tritt and Stuart's take offered the tune a little bit more of a honky-tonk edge.
"Double Trouble"From: 'The Restless Kind' (1996)
From Tritt's 1996 release The Restless Kind, "Double Trouble" is a blue-collar cheating anthem. The song tells of two co-workers who find out they are dating the same woman. Tritt and Stuart swap verses as the two men, who call the person they thought they were dating exclusively to deliver the news.
"Honky Tonkin's What I Do Best"From: 'Honky Tonkin's What I Do Best' (1996)
This title track from Stuart's acclaimed 1996 album serves as the essence of the duo's collaborative relationship with one another.
"This One's Gonna Hurt You (For a Long, Long Time)"From: 'This One's Gonna Hurt You' (1992)
Stuart takes the lead on the title track from his sixth and most commericially successful album to date. The narrator explains how his partner is leaving him, and tries to make sure that she knows that's a bad idea.
"A long, long time is forever / And will I get over you, probably never / You can't walk away from true love / And leave all your feelings behind / Cause this one's gonna hurt you for a long, long time."
"The Whiskey Ain't Workin'"From: 'It's All About to Change' (1991)
The duo's most memorable track, written by Stuart and Scaife, is about a man that wants to find a better path, but believes he can only be motivated by a good woman's love.