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A punter with a pen: Thomson's Mohr helps write country song on Travis Tritt's latest release

"I look at him and I'm so amazed

I'm so proud and then so afraid

That the apple didn't fall quite far from enough from the tree

Yeah, I look at him and I see me"

- Travis Tritt

You ever wonder what goes through a punter's mind during the endless idle hours between kicks?

If you're Chris Mohr, the Atlanta Falcons veteran from Thomson, it's a song - one without any defined lyrics or even music. Just a notion of a song about being a father with four sons all seemingly destined to be as much joy and trouble as you were.

"I've had the idea for years and didn't know what to do with it," Mohr said of the song zygote running through his head.

Naturally, the punter went to the song-writing son of a former NFL general manager before they in turn went to the frequent Georgia Dome halftime guest who wrote and recorded Falcons Fever.

At each step, the initial reaction was always - "Uh, yeah, right ... the punter thinks he can write a song."

The secondary reaction, however, was always - "Hmm, this big lug might just have something."

Now, what started in Mohr's mind has a voice and a tune and a place on the play list of country music stations. I See Me is the latest single released by country music veteran Travis Tritt, and Mohr is one of the "fabulous songwriters ... the life's blood of our industry" thanked on the album cover.

"I just like the fact that it's out there," said Mohr, whose only prior link to his favorite musical genre was singing Too Hip for the Room on an NFL country CD with former Buffalo Bills special teamer Steve Tasker.

Creating a song from scratch wasn't easy and took long enough for his oldest inspiration, Garrett, to grow from 8 to 12.

It got rolling when Mohr presented his song idea to Casey Beathard after dragging him to the postgame Rhubarb Jones radio show in Atlanta.

"I thought, 'Oh God!' " said Beathard, the song-writing son of longtime NFL executive Bobby Beathard. "You hear that all the time from anybody and everybody."

But the punter's concept had legs. He spoke about watching his kids get into the same kind of troubles he once got into and

it was like "seeing himself."

"It was a great idea; great concept," said Beathard, the 2004 BMI Songwriter of the Year whose writing credits include No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem by Kenny Chesney, Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagles Fly by Aaron Tippin, Hot Mama by Trace Adkins and his only No. 1 hit Ten Rounds with Jose Cuervo by Tracy Byrd.

"It turned out to be such a good idea," Beathard said, "I thought about it for awhile and worked on it."

Mohr was constantly consulting, pushing for anecdotes about hunting and other things personal to he and his four sons. Beathard had to explain the benefits of keeping the theme more universal to prevent killing it as a single and giving it every chance of catching on in all radio markets.

While Beathard polished the words and put it to music, he says I See Me is definitely 50 percent Mohr.

"I never count lines and don't care where I am inspired," Beathard said. "I think a great idea is the biggest thing for any song."

Eight months after the initial pitch, it was recorded as a demo and ready for the next step. They naturally turned to a mutual friend and lifetime Falcons fan, Tritt.

Mohr first met Tritt through former NFL player Mark Kelso when they were teammates in Buffalo. But that's hardly strong enough to sell a song to one of country's biggest names.

Tritt - who has three sons of his own - was pleasantly surprised. It was his wife, Theresa, however who sealed the deal.

"She fell in love with it first," Beathard said. "When (Travis) said she loved it, I knew we were in. If you make them laugh or cry, they're the ones."

Tritt called Mohr and told him, "I think you've got something here." He added a 12-string orchestra for the seventh track on his album My Honky Tonk History. On Valentine's Day, it was released as the album's third single. That same night, Tritt performed it live at the Grand Ol' Opry.

"A very well-respected songwriter called me up when he heard it and said, 'That was awesome,'" Beathard said of the buzz the new release generated. "There's no question that people like it and get it. It's just whether radio will let them hear it or not."

Mohr heard it when he and his kids got in the car after seeing a movie in Thomson.

"I had to make sure the CD wasn't in," Mohr said. "The boys like it. The women I play it for tend to cry."

It closely touches any parent, without being too sappy. The song tells of the mischief of a boy who sneaks a G.I. Joe doll into church, speculates on the trouble he'll present as a teenager with a pickup truck and laments the inevitable empty nest.

"I guess I get what my dad got from me"

"If you have boys, you'll relate to it a little bit," Mohr said. "It's pretty real to life."

Mohr hasn't received any royalty checks yet. Should I See Me rise on the charts and become a top-10 hit, he could be looking at a significant bonus.

Beathard says Mohr should be justifiably proud for doing something about as likely as Tritt punting in an NFL game.

"It's really, really, really rare for someone that's only written one song in his life to be cut and put out as a single," he said. "I know people who've been here (in Nashville) for 11 years that haven't done that. It's got to be an extra good idea and original."

So is Mohr the next A-Ha or Billy Ray Cyrus - a one-hit wonder content to punt his way through life? Or is there another song churning inside him that might spawn a second career?

"I don't know," Mohr said. "But I know where to go when I have an idea for a song."

Web posted on Thursday, February 24, 2005


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Updated: 04-Nov-2010 10:01

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