‘Traveller’ by Chris Stapleton: Captivating Story on How Iconic Track Came to Life

by Jon D. B.

If you love Chris Stapleton, then you know his breakout hit. But do you know the captivating true story behind this meaningful single?

One of modern country music’s best, “Traveller” made Chris Stapleton the superstar he is today. While casual fans are more familiar with his 2015 rendition of “Tennessee Whiskey”, it was his debut album of the same year that cemented Stapleton as a truly great singer/songwriter with lasting power.

Chief among his debut album’s efforts is the title track “Traveller”. The song, written and recorded by Stapleton, hit radio waves on April 27, 2015, and changed his life forever.

“Traveller” would go on to receive nominations for Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance at the 58th Grammy Awards, taking home the latter. And since its debut, the song has sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide.

So how did this fantastic set of lyrics, and resulting iconic song, come to be?

“Well, the song, ‘Traveller,’ is about seeing life through the eyes of an NBA referee. You know, they see this kind of stuff all day long. This one’s for you guys,” SoundsLikeNashville jokingly quotes Stapleton of the song’s history. “Oh, and for the people that work at Foot Locker, too.”

Funnily enough, Stapleton did, in fact, say these exact words. They were, however, scripted comedy. The country star gave this explanation for “Traveler” during a video skit for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

As for the true inspiration behind such an iconic, powerful track?

The TRUE Story Behind Chris Stapleton’s ‘Traveler’

Popular music trivia juggernaut SongFacts sets the record straight. Within their listing for “Traveler”, the site notes that, according to Stapleton himself, the title track of his debut solo album “was inspired by some soul-searching in the desert.”

“My father passed away in October 2013, and [I] had a single die around the same time on radio, so I needed a little head clearing space,” Chris Stapleton recalls. “My wife had the presence of mind to know me well enough that I needed that. She bought me an old jeep out in Phoenix, Arizona, and we flew out there and decided to drive it home.”

I see the sunrise creepin’ in
Everything changes like the desert wind
Here she comes and then she’s gone again
And I’m just a traveller on this earth
Sure as my heart’s behind the pocket of my shirt

I’ll just keep rollin’ till I’m in the dirt
‘Cause I’m a traveller

Chris Stapleton

“Along the way, just driving through the desert, I was thinking about life and how we’re all just passing through it and that’s what the song is,” he continues. “So, as I was driving, I was humming lyrics into my phone and wrote the song then and there.”

My heartbeat’s rhythm is a lonesome sound
Just like the rubber turning on the ground
Always lost and nowhere bound
I’m just a traveller on this earth
Sure as my heart’s behind the pocket of my shirt
I’ll just keep rollin’ till I’m in the dirt
‘Cause I’m a traveller, oh, I’m a traveller
I couldn’t tell you honey, I don’t know
Where I’m goin’ but I’ve got to go
‘Cause every turn reveals some other road
And I’m a traveller…

Chris Stapleton

“Somewhere in New Mexico, probably,” Stapleton says, “that song was born.”

And the rest, as they say, is history.

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