Fifteen Favorites: The Randy Travis Edition

Image from Randy Travis

(Editor’s note: I’m thrilled to say today’s post is a guest feature from friend and colleague Kyle, who operates Kyle’s Korner – a fantastic music and gaming outlet (that I also contribute toward). It’s a great outlet for mainstream country single reviews and chart analysis, and today, Kyle is reaching back through time to unearth some old bones from Randy Travis’ discography. Enjoy!)

Spoiler alert: #1 is a bone song.

Randy Travis occupies a strange place in country music history. As the face of the neotraditional movement that brought the genre back from the brink of ruin in the mid-1980s, Travis is inarguably a seminal figure in country music, and yet in terms of recognition he seems to be a rung below the genre’s contemporary titans (when was the last time you heard anyone drop his name in a song?). Maybe it was the brevity of his mainstream career compared to the Straits and Jacksons of the world, maybe it was the pivots towards Hollywood in the late 90s and gospel music in the 2000s, or maybe it was the 2013 stroke that forced him out of the spotlight, but whatever the reason, his legacy doesn’t seem to have the staying power that other legendary artists have.

Those in the know, however, know better, and many an artist has cited Travis’s work as an inspiration over the last few decades. In fact, it was a well-worn cassette copy of Storms Of Life that awakened the musical consciousness of a certain blogger back in the late 80s. (Just imagine how different Kyle’s Korner would look if the tape that resonated with me had been the other album my parents overplayed, Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell!) I’ve been a diehard fan of Travis’s for as long as I can remember, and trying to pick fifteen tracks from a discography this large and this good is darn near impossible for me. Still, we’re here to try our best to highlight some of my favorites from the entire span of Travis’s career, and explain what makes them so awesome.

#15: “Where Can I Surrender”
Album: A Man Ain’t Made Of Stone (1999)
Writer: Rock Killough

This song, much like Brad Paisley’s “I Wish You’d Stay,” is a rare tribute to overproduction in country music. On the surface it’s a simple lament of squandered romantic opportunities that brings to mind Alabama’s “Love In The First Degree,” and while the writing has its moments (the criminal justice metaphors on the back half of the first verse are brilliantly executed), there’s nothing super special about the song itself. However, the producers decided to push all their chips into the center of the table on this one, opening with a poignant piano and slowly upping the ante by bringing in a string section, steel guitar, and eventually a full choir to to drive home the depth of the narrator’s feelings. For Travis’s part, sad songs have always been his bread and butter, and he does a great job injecting a feeling of mournful despair into the track while maintaining his trademark smooth delivery. It’s very easy to get swept up in the narrator’s plight, and that’s a tribute to while Travis and longtime producer Kyle Lehning usually favored a simple approach, the trio of James Stroud, Bryan Gallimore, and Travis deserve major props for this one.

#14: “Can’t Hurt A Man” (duet with Tim McGraw)
Album: 25th Anniversary Celebration (2011)
Writers: Lance Miller, Brad Warren, and Brett Warren

I wasn’t a huge fan of the 25th anniversary album when it came out (the hit re-recordings will never truly compare to the originals, and Travis’s chemistry with the guest stars was hit-or-miss), but my opinion has softened a bit over time. His duet with McGraw is the track that’s stuck with me the most over the years, which is interesting given the Ex-Boyfriend country trend that the genre is mired in right now. The setup is the same as most Ex-Boyfriend songs (we’ve got a frustrated narrator and a relationship that is on the rocks at best), so why does this one resonate while the drivel currently at radio doesn’t? It’s because there’s a subtle attitude shift here: Instead of a whine, the song is a dare, a statement of resilience that says the narrator can take whatever the other person throws at them. It’s a position that’s much easier to support, and they use the same vague language that Carly Pearce employs to clearly (and believably) paint themselves as the victim. Travis and McGraw play off of each other well (even if the song isn’t really set up for a duet), and the production takes a simple, understated, drum-heavy approach to help drive the message home. It was proof that even 25 years into his mainstream career, Travis could still deliver the high heat when he wanted.

#13: “Old 8×10”
Album: Old 8×10 (1988)
Writers: Joe Chambers and Larry Jenkins

It doesn’t get put into the same class as Storms Of Life and Always & Forever, but I’d argue that Old 8×10 was just as good as its predecessors, and stands as proof that Travis could make any song sound heartfelt and earnest, no matter how off-the-wall the writing got (could anyone else have credibly sold “Deeper Than The Holler” and “Is It Still Over?”). The title track has always been my favorite of the bunch, primarily because:

  • The details are prevalent and vivid enough to let you visualize the picture in your mind, “through one plate glass window ‘neath a blanket of dust.”
  • The writing takes a direct, no-nonsense approach to the topic (the narrator just really misses their partner), and the emotion in Travis’s delivery gives the song a raw, unfiltered feel that makes your heart ache right along with him.

The production uses a very light touch here, letting the fiddle and steel pedal provide some accents but otherwise staying out of the way of the lyrics. This is first and foremost a vehicle for Travis’s off-the-charts charisma, and Lehning brings in just enough sound to set the mood. I guess you could say the song…*puts on shades*…was well-framed.

…Okay, okay, put down the pitchforks and tomatoes, we’re moving on…

#12: “Highway Junkie”
Album: Full Circle (1996)
Writers: Chris Knight, Annie Tate, and Sam Tate

I distinctly remember being very distraught around the release of Full Circle because all of the talk around it indicated that the album would be Travis’s swan song (and it was…for Travis and Warner Brothers…temporarily). None of the singles did terribly well and I’d put the disc solidly in the ‘good but not great’ category, but the standout track was the trucker jam that served as the album opener. I think Lehning is the true MVP here, because it’s the production that makes it work: This a primarily a guitar-and-drum that any current producer would have ruined, but the guitars have great tone and texture, the drums pack a solid punch, and the tempo gives the arrangement a feeling of speed and urgency that pushes the song forward. The story itself is a bit boilerplate when it comes to the songs (and the writing can be iffy at times; the “wheels of rubber gonna rub her off of my mind” line is forced, and the drug reference on the hook doesn’t really fit with everything else), but this kind of song was rare in 1996 and even rare now, so there’s a novelty aspect that works in its favor (the Roger Miller reference also fits well, especially since Travis covers “King Of The Road” later in the album). Despite its (un)popular showing, I think the album still holds its own in Travis’s discography, and “Highway Junkie” remains one of my favorites and one of his best.

#11: “What Have You Got Planned Diana”
Album: Influence Vol. 1: The Man I Am (2013)
Writer: Dave Kirby

We got two Influence discs from Travis before his stroke (Volume 2 was released after the incident in 2014), and there’s a clear distinction between the two: Volume 1 prioritized the quality of the recording over a song’s familiarity or the original artist (I seem to recall a review back in the day that basically called it a Merle Haggard tribute album), while the follow-up disc included more hits from more people even if Travis didn’t sound quite as good on the songs. At this point, Travis resembled a late-career Greg Maddux: He didn’t have the same fastball that he did in his prime, but his voice was as emotive and magnetic as ever, and he had the experience and charisma to sing the heck out of a love song. In that respect, “What Have You Got Planned Tonight Diana” might have been the perfect song for him in 2013: Reflecting the narrator’s experience and commitment was old hat for him, and the slow tempo, limited (and generally lower) range, and relaxed storytelling allowed him to deliver the track with ease. The story itself may not be developed a ton, but the premise of a look back on the lives of two Alaskan homesteaders is enough to catch the audience’s attention, and the light-touch, guitar-dominated production created a warm atmosphere that help share the narrator’s contented feelings with their listeners without getting in the way. The album may have been called Influence, but Travis did a great job making songs like this one his own.

#10: “Forever And Ever, Amen”
Album: Always & Forever (1987)
Writers: Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz

Don’t think I don’t see you reaching for those pitchforks and tomatoes again. How can Travis’s signature song, a song that won Single of the Year at both the CMA and ACM awards, a song that anchored a quintuple-platinum album, a song that still gets spins now and again on mainstream radio, wind up barely making the Top 10 on this list?

If I’m honest, this one has always felt like a relatively run-of-the-mill love song to me, the kind of song that I would slapped the Boyfriend country label on if it were released in 2022. Some random guy proclaiming that he’s found his true love, he’ll no longer be wild and free, and he’ll love them “forever and ever, amen” even if they lose all their hair? Yeah, I’ve heard all this before—a lot.

So let’s flip the question: Why does a song like this even deserve to be at #10? Two reasons:

  • ’87 Travis was no mere faceless young male singer off of Nashville’s assembly line. While it always felt like he favored sad songs over happy ones in his discography, his smooth delivery and earnest, genuine charisma could sell a love song just as well as anyone else, and when he says “I’m gonna love you forever and ever, forever and ever, amen,” you believe it. (Cue your ancient aunt saying “He’s such a nice boy!”)
  • I absolutely adore the production on this track. There isn’t a lot to this arrangement (it’s really an acoustic guitar with a couple other pieces swapping in and out), but every piece is exquisitely placed to create a bright, breezy atmosphere that just screams “springtime romance.” I love how the dobro sets the tone through its opener and bridge solo, I love how the backing vocals add some presence and swell to the second verse, I love how the steel guitar drives home every line on the chorus…it makes you wonder: Am I really a Randy Travis fan, or do I actually stan Kyle Lehning?

So yeah, I wouldn’t call “Forever And Ever, Amen” his best song, but I would call it an iconic song that does a great job showcasing Travis’s (and Lehning’s) talents. Now will you lower your weapons?

#9: “This Is Me”
Album: This Is Me (1994)
Writers: Tom Shapiro and Thom McHugh

Hang on, my phone is ringing. …Oh great, it’s Kyle from 1994, and he is not happy. What is THIS thing doing on your list? You know full well that “Runaway Train” is Travis’s best song of the 1990s, and this is just the boring follow-up with the New England Telephone riff. How could you be so stupid?

First of all, “best song of the 1990s” is a bold statement considering that some objectively better tracks like “Hard Rock Bottom Of Your Heart” and “If I Didn’t Have You” didn’t even make my list. Second, as I stated two years ago, “‘Runaway Train’ is a pure sugar rush with no substance to the writing,” and it’s more repetitive than even Eddie Rabbitt’s notorious “I Love A Rainy Night.” On the flip side, the writing for this track has grown on me over the years: I’ve always been a fan of the way Clint Black could turn a phrase in his songs, and “This Is Me” is as close to that level of wordplay as Travis ever got (“Why do you keep your distance as close as we’ve been,” “Do you think your silence is saying there ain’t nothin’ wrong with you,” etc.) Throws in Travis’s earnest charisma and a tasteful blend of piano and guitar carrying the melody, and you’ve got a song that feels both witty and emotional, and a genuine joy to listen to.

Now tell me, ’94 Kyle: How did you get this number? You know darn well that the operator can only connect you to 1982

#8: It’s Just A Matter Of Time
Album: No Holdin’ Back (1989)
Writers: Brook Benton, Belford Hendricks, and Clyde Otis

I can’t find my source for this anymore, but I recall long ago that Travis remarked that he sang country music because if he tried to sing anything else, he would sound terrible. I dispute that statement, and I point to his cover of Benton’s 1959 hit as evidence. Richard Perry’s production here is a carbon copy of Hendricks’s original mix, complete with its slow groove, the melody-carrying waltzing piano, the prominent string section, and the rhythmic backing vocals (admit it: You’re never singing along with Travis, you’re doing the “bum-bum-bum-bum” parts like me). The narrator here radiates confidence as they declare that their ex will come back to them after a failed relationship, and while they run the risk of feeling smug and even arrogant, I think both Benton and Travis do a great job softening the speaker with their vocal performance and making them more likeable. (With the way words are stretched out and how the performer is periodically pushed into their lower range, the song is tailor-made for a someone with Travis’s deep voice and smooth delivery.) It’s a refreshing change of pace from Travis’s usual fare, and given how it turned out, I feel like Travis could have been successful in nearly any genre of music.

#7: “You Didn’t Have A Good Time”
Album: Around The Bend (2008)
Writers: Kris Bergsnes, Jason Matthews, and Jim McCormick

This song falls into the category of “right time, right place, right person.” First, let’s consider the subject matter, where the narrator tries to point out the costs (and general emptiness) of someone else’s hard-drinking lifestyle in vivid detail (the bathroom scene is notably striking). Drinking has been a staple of the genre ever since its inception, but usually these sort of come-to-Jesus tracks are self-directed rather than aimed at another person (and such reflections on the flip side of the party lifestyle are almost nonexistent these days). In Travis, the song finds its perfect deliveryman: An aging singer with a troubled past (Travis’s rough-and-tumble origin story is a genre legend by this point) who has seen both sides of the bottle cap and thus can speak with authority and honesty on the subject. Toss in Travis’s signature delivery, mix in production that slowly built up to a climax while always keeping the focus on the writing, sprinkle on the events that followed that made Travis a tragic figure (and thus made a track like this resonate even more), and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a country classic. This is the sort of song that I want to hear more of on radio: It’s got a strong message delivered by an expect in both songcraft and hard living, and goes against the grain to give the listener something to think about long after the song ends.

#6: “On The Other Hand”
Album: Storms Of Life (1986)
Writers: Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz

This is the song that famously got a second chance at life after crashing and burning in ’85, and wound up launching Travis’s career into the stratosphere. I have to admit, I didn’t quite get this one back in my younger days: I though “golden band” meant a musical band using gold instruments to play some song that jogged the narrator’s memory. Over time, however, I’m come to appreciate both the simplicity and subtlety of the Storms Of Life opener, especially in Travis’s performance. Instead of bringing any sort of emotion to the table, he stays remarkably neutral on this track, calmly weighing the pluses and minuses of the choice before him: Continue the extramarital relationship, or break it off? It’s a relaxed, almost callous performance, and yet his understated delivery and the weight of his words make it almost impossible to dislike the guy (the writing also does a nice job setting up the scenario without giving too much away). Lehning’s mix (with a rare assist from Keith Stegall) was a sign of things to come: It was simple, uncluttered, and managed to give you a seat at the bar near the action without getting in the way of the story. As track #1 on his debut album, this was probably the first time non-radio-savvy people like me had heard Travis, and it’s fair to say that he made a good impression.

#5: “I Told You So” (solo & as a duet with Carrie Underwood)
Albums: Randy Ray Live At The Nashville Palace (1983), Always & Forever (1987), radio single (2009)
Writer: Randy Travis

Travis is known as many things, but a prolific songwriter isn’t one of them, and while artists today tend to write most/all of their own material, Travis rarely had more than a handful of self-penned songs on any album. (He did, however, have a surprisingly fruitful writing partnership with Alan Jackson in the early 1990s.) I never thought Travis was a bad songwriter, but I wouldn’t have called him an elite one either, and “I Told You So” isn’t one of his stronger composition (that awkward shift from “and we’d live in love forever” to “and that I’m your one and only” never sat well with me). So why did the song resonate with listeners to the point that it wound up on Underwood’s Carnival Ride in 2007? I think it goes back to a paraphrased quote I cited in my Splatoon 3 Direct analysis: People tend to assume the worst when you don’t tell them you really care, and I think song taps into that fear of being rejected if they returned to a relationship that they had ended. As opposed to “On The Other Hand,” Travis really brings the emotion this time around, and you can’t help be sympathize with the narrator even though they’re lying in a bed they clearly made. As far as the production, I’m sensing a pattern here: It swells up just enough to add some punch to the choruses (the steel guitar is the standout here), but for the most part this is just an acoustic guitar with some assorted pieces in the background, ensuring that the lyrics take center stage. It’s the sort of performance that sticks with you long after it ends, and it’s always been one of my favorites.

#4: “The Human Race” (duet with Vern Gosdin)
Album: Heroes & Friends (1990)
Writers: Gene Dobbins, Jimmy Phillips, and Tim Mensy

Heroes & Friends always struck me as a passion project similar to Brad Paisley’s Play and Dierks Bentley’s Up On The Ridge, and while it didn’t seem to be terribly well-received at the time (and some of the tracks haven’t aged well at all), there are still some gems to be found here. This one is not only my favorite of the bunch, but it’s been on the rise in recent years as the question posed by the hook “Are we losin’ the human race?” becomes more and more pressing. Sure, the language and the specific issues that are raised feel a bit dated (general climate change has taken all the headlines away from acid rain, and when was the last time someone called an answering machine a “code-a-phone”?), but the general sense that we haven’t progressed as a people as much as our technological prowess would indicate feels pretty poignant right now. In fact, given our current problems with cybercrime, weapons proliferation, and social media, it can really feel like “the more that we progress it seems the farther we keep slipping down that drain”! There are a couple of really sharp lines in this song (“We reached for the stars, but are we that far removed from the caves?” and “Now everybody’s talkin’, so tell me why we can’t communicate,” for starters), and while it doesn’t feel like much of a duet song, Gosdin and Travis have some solid chemistry and enough charisma to give their questions the necessary weight. The production can feel a bit generic at its base, but it’s got some interesting instrument choices (dobros, harmonicas) that help it stand out and give it a suitably serious and concerned feel. It’s a great song that plays well in troubled times, and given that “troubled” would be putting our current situation mildly, this one sits pretty solidly at #4.

#3: “Somewhere In My Broken Heart”
Album: No Holdin’ Back (1989)
Writers: [REDACTED] and Richard Leigh

Now this is a Randy Travis song!

But Kyle, didn’t Bil—

I swear to the squid spirits, if you so much as think about He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, I will come over there and smack you with my umbrella! This is a Randy. Travis. SONG!

If you think no one could possibly go off like this over an album cut…then you have no idea how offended I was back in the day when Billy Dean decided to record this song, release it as a single, and take it all the way to #3. The fact that he was a co-writer on the track made no difference: He had let Randy Travis record it, and there were no takebacks, darn it! (I love Dean as an artist, but I’m still not sure I’ve forgiven him for this blasphemy.)

Let’s get back to the question at hand: Why is Travis’s version of the song this high on my list? Let’s start with the production, and specifically that haunting electric guitar that opens the track and generally defines the the sound of the mix. It’s the perfect instrument to carry a sad, emotional track like this one, and everything else (drums, guitars, backing vocals) follows the traditional Travis/Lehning formula: Do just enough to support the song without getting in its way. (The backing vocals deserve a special shout-out for adding some extra punch the choruses; you hear shades of “Where Can I Surrender” here, but this one doesn’t feel as overproduced.) The writing doesn’t do anything wild here, but it works extra-hard to keep hard feelings out of the picture: The other person is leaving, and while the speaker is sad about it, they accept the decision and hope things work out well for the leaver. Travis does a nice job infusing the song with a heaping helping of heartbreak without overdoing it, making the feelings feel raw and the well-wishes to the narrator’s ex feel genuine. It’s just a sweet (and sweet-sounding) song, and while I like some the things Dean did in his version (especially the extended solo), this will always be the definitive version to me.

#2: “Three Wooden Crosses”
Album: Rise & Shine (2002)
Writers: Kim Williams and Doug Johnson

Every so often, an aging artist will catch one last lightning bolt in a bottle and score one last major hit to cap off their career. David Ball did it with “Riding With Private Malone,” David Lee Murphy did it with “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” Billy Ray Cyrus did it will “Old Town Road,” and Travis would do it with this song, which became his first #1 since 1994 and won pretty much every award the genre had to give out. (Of course, by the above definition Travis would do this again in 2009 with Underwood and “I Told You So,” but sometimes lightning strikes twice, right?)

I think the writing is the biggest star here, starting with the opening line “A farmer and a teacher, a hooker and a preacher.” Come on, you can’t not be drawn in by a line like that to see how a song like this ends. The intrigue continues on the hook: “There are three wooden crosses,” but four main characters, so why the discrepancy? As it turns out, the fourth person went on to raise the person telling the story, and it all ties neatly back into the song’s message: “It’s not what you take when you leave this world behind you, it’s what you leave behind you when you go.” This is an exquisitely-written song with a solid message behind it, and while I don’t think anybody could have messed this one up, not just anybody could have made it Song of the Year either.

Being the crafty veteran that he was, Travis knew exactly what to do with this song: Focus on the story, maintain the mystery until the very end, apply a little bit of power to emphasize points when needed, and generally keep things clear and simple in his delivery, letting his trademark understated charisma shine through. Lehning’s production uses a similarly-light touch: Anchor the song with an acoustic guitar, keep the drums quiet and unobtrusive, use a steel guitar to create an bright, upbeat vibe, bring in some backing vocals to give the track a spiritual flair, and sprinkle in a few other items (mandolin, electric guitar, keyboard) for flavor. Nothing here is too heavy or dark, emphasizing the positivity of the message, and perhaps even suggesting that death is not as scary if we live on through our deeds and those we inspire.

Travis’s success with this song was no fluke, nor was it a token gesture towards a legend on his way out the door. This song deserves every plaudit that it got, including its runner-up spot on this list.

Honorable Mentions: Good grief, where do I even begin? You already know all the hits, so in order to avoid putting the man’s entire discography here, I’m going to highlight some deeper cuts and some tracks that have a bit more personal meaning for me:

Album: Single only (1978)
Writers: Barry De Vorzon and Ted Ellis

“Call Somebody Who Gives A Damn”
Album: Randy Ray Live At The Nashville Palace (1983)
Writer: Randy Travis

“Reasons I Cheat”
Albums: Randy Ray Live At The Nashville Palace (1983), Storms Of Life (1986)
Writer: Randy Travis

“Better Class Of Losers”
Albums: High Lonesome (1991)
Writers: Alan Jackson and Randy Travis

This song makes me laugh today because I’ve somehow entered the world that Travis yearned to escape. Ever since I became “Dr. Kyle,” all the people I worked with buy home computers, grind their own coffee, and look down their noses at cheap wine!

“Take Another Swing At Me”
Album: Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 (1992)
Writer: Paul Craft

“I’ll Be Right Here Loving You”
Album: A Man Ain’t Made Of Stone (1999)
Writers: T. W. Hale and Jeffrey Steele

Only Randy Travis could make me enjoy what has to be the listiest of laundry list songs.

“Train Long Gone”
Album: Passing Through (2004)
Writer: Dennis Linde

And I’ll throw one more in here for good measure…

“Diggin’ Up Bones”
Album: Storms Of Life (1986)
Writers: Al Gore (no, not that Al Gore), Paul Overstreet, and Nat Stuckey

Wait a minute…didn’t you say that #1 was a bone song?

I did, didn’t I? You see, Travis actually had two bone songs, and while his 1986 #1 is what people usually remember, the second one (a #2 from 1998) has been mostly forgotten by the world…but not by me.

#1: “Out Of My Bones”
Album: You And You Alone (1998)
Writers: Gary Burr, Robin Lerner and Sharon Vaughn

So what makes Travis’s other bone song so great?

Let’s start with the production, which in my mind forms the foundation of exactly what the 90s-era neotraditional sound is. You’ve got your guitars, your fiddles, your piano, your pedal steel, and your drums, and most importantly, you’ve got real synergy in the mix, where different instruments step in and out of the spotlight, trading and sharing the lead as if it were a bluegrass band. Whenever you hear me use the phrase “musical diversity” in a review, this is the song where that comes from: I want to hear lots of different pieces, and I want them to walk the line between coming together and standing alone. As much as I love Lehning’s work, the Stroud/Gallimore/Travis trio did a masterful job here.

The writing here may seem like nothing special, as the narrator is trying to find a way to get over a terminated relationship. In the current era of Ex-Boyfriend country, however, it’s worth noting what isn’t here: There’s no blame being cast, there’s no illusion that the flame can ever be rekindled, and there’s no looking backwards. What’s done is done, and the narrator is going to do whatever they have to do “’til you’re out of my bones.” (While the speaker says that “it may sound a little extreme,” after hearing songs like Jamey Johnson’s “Mowin’ Down The Roses” and Ward Davis’s “Book Of Matches,” Travis talking to himself or walking around with a picture in his shoes seems more quaint than outlandish.) Alcohol doesn’t get much airtime here either, as we’re limited to a reference to “medicine, something strong that will work real fast” in the second verse. There’s enough here to get a sense of the anguish the narrator is going through, but enough differences from other songs in this vein to make it stand out.

As for Travis…after fourteen tracks, there isn’t a whole lot more that I can say about his performance. The production may be louder, but his voice breaks through without any trouble, and his charm and charisma help make what might seem like quirky behavior seem perfectly reasonable given the narrator’s state of mind. The pain may come through clearly in his delivery, but so does his determination, and when he says he’s going to get over this memory and get it out of his bones, he leaves the listener with no doubt that he will. It’s yet another solid performance from the greatest singer of all time, and it’s my favorite one out of all of them.

Ultimately, I couldn’t tell you why “Out Of My Bones” is my #1 Randy Travis tune. Maybe I was just really happy that Full Circle wasn’t has last roundup. Maybe the song came to me at a time when I needed it the most (real talk: I would live through 2020 a hundred times before I would even think about reliving 1998). Maybe the clip of the song I got from Travis’s website at the time just sounded really funny when I played it at double speed on my old Macintosh. Whatever the reason, I never fail to smile when I hear that familiar fiddle opener, and when my nieces and nephews gather together someday to plan weird Uncle Kyle’s wake, this had better be playing on a stereo nearby.

Okay, now you can pick up your pitchforks and tomatoes. Did you favorite Randy Travis songs make the list? What would your Fine Fifteen look like? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

10 thoughts on “Fifteen Favorites: The Randy Travis Edition

  1. A pleasure to read, Kyle! Props for not being afraid to name a lot of great deep cuts and lesser-known songs. I’ve always loved “The Human Race” and “Out of My Bones”, and I’m glad to see I’m not the only one!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Passing Through” has to be my favorite album, yet I rarely see it mentioned anywhere. Solid all the way through. Cut in 2004, his voice was weathered with wisdom but still strong. “I Can See It In Your Eyes” is my favorite song from that album.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I don’t change the radio when any of his songs come on. I love “Angels” and I don’t know why it isn’t a national Mother’s Day song!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hey Kyle,

    Sorry for just now commenting on this, but I want to say thank you so, so much for contributing your awesome writing to TMD! I’m honored to have this here and can honestly say you threw me with your No. 1 pick! I do agree that it feels like even though Travis’ place in country music history is safely secure, we don’t really talk about his actual music as much as we should. So thanks again for this!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love every one of Randy Travis songs!! It’s his voice! This man is so special and his music lives in me as though he sings them from the heart ❤️🥰

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love all Randy’s song. I especially love Three wooden crosses by the highway, because I lost my son Michael Ray Murray at the young age of 36 on September 9th 2020.
    When I just listened too the top 15 I cried so hard. I wasn’t surprised too see it being #2.
    I didn’t see the #1 sing though.
    Love you Randy God bless you and praying for healing for you, sure would love to see you singing again God’s praises.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Another one of my favourite artists! I was fortunate to see him live twice before his health problems and he was excellent both times.

    Great post Kyle! I enjoyed your discussion and appreciation of some of his deeper cuts. These lists are always interesting for artists of this caliber, with many classic hits, but also with excellent depth throughout his discography.

    I’ve mentioned previously that I really enjoy well-done spiritual music (not necessarily gospel, although I do like some gospel music) and Randy Travis has recorded some of the best albums in this genre. The “Worship & Faith” album is a particular favourite of mine and it’s brought me comfort over the years (see numbers 7, 11 and 16 below).

    Here’s my list.

    Honorable Mention:
    20. Would I
    19. Train Long Gone
    18. The Family Bible and the Farmer’s Almanac
    17. Pray for the Fish
    16. Will the Circle Be Unbroken? – one of my favourite versions of this song

    One other track that I want to mention that didn’t make my list is his cover of “Sunday Morning Coming Down.” It was an interesting production choice to have a more upbeat sound, which is completely at odds with the lyrics, but I think it works and it is one of my favourite versions of this song.

    Top 15:
    15. Reasons I Cheat
    14. I’m Gonna Have a Little Talk with Jesus
    13. If I Didn’t Have You
    12. Is It Still Over?
    11. He’s My Rock, My Sword, My Shield
    10. Heart of Hearts
    9. Diggin’ Up Bones
    8. Hard Rock Bottom of Your Heart
    7. The Unclouded Day
    6. On the Other Hand
    5. The Old Chisholm Trail
    4. 1982
    3. Come See About Me (w/ Conway Twitty) – I agree that the “Heroes and Friends” album was good, but it didn’t work too well for some of the songs, but this one worked perfectly. I didn’t realize that this was previously a Conway Twitty solo song (which I just listened to for the first time as I typed this out).
    2. Old 8×10
    1. Whisper My Name

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s