Randy Travis is a country music legend whom burst onto the scene in 1986 leaving an indelible impression and helping change the face of country music at the time, ushering in what has been referred to as the neo-traditional style which was born as a reaction to the perceived blandness of mainstream country music and pop-country acts such as Anne Murray and Ronnie Milsap.
Randy was born in Marshville, NC and after a tumultuous childhood fell into the right situation at the right time after he won a local talent contest and the owner let him cook there by day and sing by night. She later became his manager (and much later, his wife) even using a demo of live performances at The Nashville Palace to secure Randy a record deal after a few failed singles and two album attempts. Warner Brothers became a good home for Randy yielding early success with "On The Other Hand" and "1982."
With unconventional looks (think Lyle Lovett's and Kevin Bacon's lovechild), Randy stood out and became an unsuspecting heartthrob to legions of female country music fans. His sexy, soulful and at times playful baritone made for a strong combination that kept Randy relevant on Country and Gospel charts for years to come with over 25 million records sold, and has earned 22 number one hits, six number one albums, six Grammy awards, six CMA awards, nine ACM awards, 10 AMA awards, seven Dove awards, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame .This is no small feat and is what I like to remember as he recovers from recent health woes. Below is a list of my Top Ten favorite Randy Travis songs in no special order (except where noted.)
1. "Forever And Ever, Amen": No Randy Travis list worth a spit has anything but this song as its Number One (This one is in special order). "As long as old men sit and talk about the weather, as long as old women sit and talk about old men" is how long he'll love her. The video was all over CMT during its run and the imagery went perfectly with the song and made me start to believe falling in love might be a real, attainable thing.
2. "Promises": A gut-wrencher that I had to skip for a couple years but now I can wrap myself up in it again and feel nostalgic, happy, and at peace. "I'll make promises, promises to change. I'll make her promises...and I'll start giving all the love she needs." Gulp.
3. "Digging Up Bones": A similar theme of love lost but from a slightly more bitter, fresher perspective. "When I went through the jewelry and I found our wedding rings, I put mine on my finger and I gave yours a fling" makes me giggle and nod in a "oh hell yeah" manner simultaneously. Every time.
4. "Three Wooden Crosses": Randy had a successful Gospel career after his Country chart success started to wane. While this song was included on his Gospel album Rise And Shine, it also charted on the Country singles chart. Randy tells the story of four very different people (Farmer, Preacher, Hooker and a Teacher) traveling to Mexico whom met an untimely end because "18 wheelers can't stop on a dime." Listen to find out why there are three crosses and not four.
5. "Walked On Water": This isn't from a gospel album but could easily have been however, the hero in this tale is his great-grandfather. "And my mama's daddy was his oldest son, and I thought that he walked on water." This is such a sweet song and I hold it together quite admirably until:
"And he was ninety years old in sixty-three
And I loved him and he loved me.
And lord, I cried the day he died, because I thought he walked on water."
Anyone who is even partially familiar with Mr. Travis' contributions to music knows this is barely scratching the surface. I just wanted to whet your appetite and I'll have at least five more on the way shortly.