Country singer Randy Travis is in the news this week--heart attack, stroke, and a brain operation. Before embarrassing arrests for alcoholism in the last couple of years, Travis had turned to gospel music and acting, so many may have forgotten just how great a country singer he was and overlooked his pivotal role in country music.
If some contrarian wanted to make the case that someone besides George Jones is the greatest country male vocalist, Travis is one of the few nominees that should be considered.
Brain Mansfield astutely observes on allmusic.com
Like the Beatles in rock, Randy Travis marks a generational shift in country music. When his Storms of Life came out in 1986, country music was still wallowing in the post-urban cowboy recession, chasing elusive crossover dreams. Travis brought the music back to its basics, sounding like nothing so much as a perfect blend of George Jones and Merle Haggard. He became the dominant male voice in country until the rise of "hat acts" like Garth Brooks and Clint Black, releasing seven consecutive number one
singlesduring one stretch.
Here are two of my favorite Randy Travis songs. "On the Other Hand" from 1986 is a great almost-cheating song. The other is "A Better Class of Losers" live on the David Letterman show in 1991 (when paying bills on computers was rare) with some entertaining tomfoolery.