During his more than thirty-year-long career, Tracy Lawrence has spent many an afternoon in downtown Nashville, driving down Lower Broadway without a care in the world.

But late in 2021, Lawrence found himself eerily close to tragedy. Just before Christmas, the “If the Good Die Young” hitmaker was on his way to an afternoon meeting when the unthinkable happened.

“I was crossing Broadway and I was behind this one car,” Lawrence remembers during a recent interview with Taste of Country. “The light turned green, and they pulled out and somebody just broadsided him.”

Lawrence’s meeting was starting in just fifteen minutes, so Lawrence says he began to wonder what he should do next.

“I was just going to pull around the guy that hit him, but all of a sudden he backed up and took off,” says Lawrence, who recently released the last piece of the three-album release Hindsight 2020featuring some of his biggest hits along with a slew of new material. “And then, this guy gets out of his car and starts shooting.”

Lawrence draws in a deep breath.

“Every city is crazy,” he says quietly. “This sort of violence is everywhere, believe me.”

Country music fans may remember that this isn’t the first time Lawrence has faced gunfire. Back in 1992, on the very day that he finished recording his debut album Sticks and Stones, the then-newcomer came face to face with three armed young men in a hotel parking lot. In the ensuing struggle, Lawrence was shot four times at close range, but he went on to make a full recovery.

Top Country Songs of 2021, Ranked

You'll find much more than just the Top 10 Country Songs of 2021 on this list. Enjoy the 21 best country songs of the year, based on Taste of Country staff and country music fan opinion, plus commercial data (sales, streaming, airplay).

To be considered, the song must have been released in 2021 or have actively charted for a portion of the year (see "Wine, Beer, Whiskey"). New artists including Lainey Wilson, Larry Fleet and Morgan Wade crack the top songs list, while hitmakers including Thomas Rhett, Jason Aldean and Luke Combs make the Top 10.

Let us know your favorite song of 2021 on Twitter, or email us at staff@tasteofcountry.com.

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