"I was not raised to be a liar," Ty Herndon tells Taste of Country. These days, the singer is relaxed and chatty in conversation, cracking jokes and making easy contact. But that wasn't always the case: For years, he was a closeted gay man, living in constant fear that the truth might destroy his career.

Even after he came out in 2014, Herndon still had soul-ravaging secrets. In 2022, he finally shined a light into all the darkest corners of his personal life: In an extensive People interview, he opened up about a three-decade-long crystal meth addiction that brought multiple stints of sobriety and multiple relapses, a bipolar diagnosis, a suicide attempt, the ongoing work of dealing with sexual trauma and more.

Throughout the years of secrecy, Herndon struggled whenever he was in the spotlight.

"It was always like Nightmare on Elm Street for me to sit down and do an interview," he says. He remembers the first interview he did after coming out, at a radio station in Dallas, Texas, with an interviewer he knew personally.

"And after the interview, he goes, 'Jesus Christ, man, you're a different beast,'" Herndon says. "For the first time in my life, I didn't walk into an interview worried about — because this was a lot of my trauma — worried about, 'God, what lie did I tell in the past?' 'What are you gonna ask about that I can't tell the truth about?' All of that was gone. That's what I remember. It was so good to have that kind of freedom."

That goes for his music, too.

"I think there's a comfort level now," he says, speaking about the experience of putting out music now that he knows his fans know his story — his whole story.

"A buddy of mine said to me just a couple of weeks ago, and it hit me in a beautiful way, 'You're effortless now, with your music. It's something you look forward to. You're not trying to get out of the room because you're uncomfortable," he explains. "I said, 'That's a high compliment, man.' I think that just comes with being comfortable in your own skin."

And although Herndon's decision to tell his story has allowed him to be honest with his fans on the most literal level, he says that — if you listen to his music closely enough — he's been telling the truth the whole time. As he says, lying doesn't sit well with him, and never has.

Herndon says that, not too long ago, he was working with a creative collaborator who was taking a deep listen through his catalog. "He said, 'Man, you were coming out way before you were coming out. In your music, if you deep dive, there are two or three things that you were screaming loudly,'" the singer says.

"I said, 'You're the first person in my life to ever figure that out.' That was not an accident," Herndon says, pointing in particular to his 2013 song, "Lies I Told Myself."

"That was my coming out song," he notes, explaining that no matter how many of his life's personal details he had to keep hidden from the world, he always found a way to be honest in his music. "It's the one thing I could be truthful with."

See the Most Played Country Song from the Year You Were Born

Who had the most played country song during the year you were born? This list is a fascinating time capsule of prevalent trends from every decade in American history. Scroll through to find your birth year and then click to listen. Some of these songs have been lost through the years, many of them for good reason!

Men named Hank dominated early before stars like Freddie Hart, Ronnie Milsap, Willie Nelson Clint Black took over to close the 1980s. More recently it's been Tim Mcgraw, Rodney Atkins, Kane Brown and Morgan Wallen. Did the most-played country song from the year you were born become a favorite of yours later? All info comes from Billboard's country airplay charts.

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