Country music and baseball – Barry Zito style. Two years after retiring from the major leagues after a 15-year pro career, the former All-Star – World Series – Cy Young Award winning pitcher has released his first EP No Secrets. Barry Zito picked up a guitar to keep himself busy on the minor league road trips after signing a contract in 1999 with the Oakland Athletics.
“Before baseball became a constant focus, Dad always had different instruments in the house, and I remember when I was five playing a valve trombone and trying to match the notes to the Michael Jackson song I was hearing, so I think I had an ear for it. I was raised in more of the Jazz and R&B worlds since my dad was a Jazz conductor and arranger. He was actually self-taught – he didn’t go to school pas the eighth grade and was from the Bronx. My mom was a classically trained singer who at 19 was singing with Nat, and my dad was conducting for Nat when they met.”
However the 38-year-old, who now calls Nashville home along with his wife Amber and their son, did not have an easy journey from baseball to music. It wasn’t until his sister Sally asked him to play guitar with her country band that Barry Zito even considered music as a second career.
“As my career progressed I realized I was raised by musicians – creative, sensitive, beautiful people, and there’s not a lot of room in professional sports for sensitive vulnerable anything really. It was a real struggle for me to embrace my differences and be authentically who I was. It probably wasn’t until the last few years of my career that I was able to do that. That’s why I really love being a musician now, because it is who I feel I have always been at my core.”
His EP is now charting on Billboard, new on the Americana/Folk Album Sales, Heatseekers Albums, and Country Album Sales. On a side note, Barry Zito isn’t the first former major league baseball player to chart on Billboard. Former players New York Yankee outfielder Bernie Williams and Cincinnati Reds/Boston Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo each charted in the early 2000’s.
Barry Zito compares performing on the mound versus on the stage,
“When you’re performing for an audience, you’re really singing to give people an emotional experience. But when you’re playing baseball, if there’s 50,000 people watching or two people, I really don’t care because I’m still in this competition and in battle with somebody. So, it’s not as much about the fans when you’re on the field competing. But when you’re performing, it’s all about the fans.”
He connects on a very personal level with his fans just as his music connects to his own life experiences. Barry Zito wrote “Home“ and co-wrote the other songs.
Barry Zito reflects on the No Secrets songs:
“Secret To Life”
“This song really speaks to the fact that I have experienced having money, some fame, and some other earthly treasures that most of us strive for in life to fulfill us. We are all guilty of thinking, ‘once I’ve get this next thing, I’ll finally be happy.’ After having those things and coming out the other side, I realized that I was no more happy and no less sad from possessing them. In the end there was never the magic pot of gold that was going to complete me. So at this point I can at least say for sure that I have eliminated my search for fulfillment in those things, just like the hook of the song says, ‘I may not know the secret to life but I know what it’s not.”
“This song is the most painful one on the record. The message is ‘I thought I had moved on from that wound in my past but I was wrong.’ In the song it is about a relationship that didn’t work out but it can be about anything from our pasts, and the things we try to do to move forward, even though deep down we probably still hurt. Every once in a while we see someone or hear a song in the midst of our day that brings all that pain back, like it was still happening in the moment.”
“There is a side to every woman that is kept hidden and only one person gets to see, and what an honor it is to have her share those ‘undiscovered’ attributes. It is the ultimate sign of trust that a woman would show that side of her to a man and that is what I am singing about. I knew all the surface stuff when I was dating my wife Amber but I wanted to know the deep stuff that she never told anyone because she was too ashamed, the flaws, her deepest demons. True love is about being exposed and totally vulnerable. When somebody gives you that gift of trust, you must hold it as gently and nonjudgmentally as you can.”
“Hearts I Didn’t Break”
“Jameson Rogers and I wrote this, and we asked this question…’what would’ve happened if I hadn’t met this person on that path of being single that I was on for so long?’ I was single in Hollywood for 10 years and I was very career focused, and there were times when I had relationships that did not end well, non-mutual parting of ways, if you can call it that. So this song talks about how that special person, my wife Amber, came along and saved those hearts I didn’t break.”
“My Own Path”
“The inspiration from this song came from when I was having a very difficult time in my baseball career. I was living in this huge mansion and more miserable than ever. I was working with this psychologist and would email him about my daily misery. In his emails back, he would always sign them off with ‘keep carving your own path.’ I thought that was so cool because as messed up as my path was, at least it was mine, and he was encouraging me to embrace it. It was challenging at the time however, because I just wished so bad that I was on a different path. Years later I went into the writing room with fellow singer/songwriter Rick Brantley and mentioned ‘carving my own path’, and I told him the back story and we just started writing. Life is about learning more and more of who you are and accepting your place in life at all times, that’s what this song says.”
“This is a song that’s about being completely lost, looking for that lifeline to bring you back to where you came from, that sense of safety and feeling okay, then realizing after searching high and low that you didn’t need much else than a change in perspective and some serious faith in something greater than yourself. It is a story that takes the listener on a journey, because I was on a crazy journey when I wrote it in 2011. I had just encountered my greatest career setback and was on crutches not able to play when I wrote it. This song gives me peace every time I hear it because it reminds me that I am never too far from where I am really want to be, which is simply just a place of internal peace and trust beyond all those earthly things that I know now will not bring true peace and contentment.”
You may listen at first just to hear what Barry Zito the baseball player sounds like as Barry Zito the country music singer/songwriter. However, once you hear the passion he pours into each heartfelt tune – you will be adding them to your playlists.