By Chuck Dauphin
Last year, when recording his 25th Anniversary album, Randy Travis admits that there was somewhat of a role reversal when he was in the studio with Jamey Johnson on the remake of “A Few Old Country Boys.” The song was a top ten record in 1990 for Travis and George Jones. Being the veteran in the song was a little different, says Travis – but not because he was older.
“Once you’ve heard George Jones sing something, it’s hard not to emulate what he does vocally,” said Travis. “For me, it was tough to do his part – not so much from a standpoint of being the older person – just it’s hard to take George Jones out of your mind.” Travis was quick to praise his duet partner on the song. “Jamey walked into that and did an amazing job at making that song his while he was singing. What a pleasure singing and writing with him. We’ve done some writing together, and I really like him a lot.”
Travis continues his career milestone celebration with a hectic schedule in 2012, though he says he really hasn’t been away from his fans. “With the exception of about three-quarters of one year, I’ve been on tour the past twenty-five. It’s another year of doing the same. I’ve had people asking me about retiring, and my answer to that is ‘What would I do?” I think that most people in the Country Music genre start touring, and we keep doing it till we die.”
What next lies ahead musically for the man who brought us such classics as “Forever And Ever , Amen” and “I Didn’t Have You?” Travis said he feels pretty sure about one thing. “For me as a singer, it’s pretty much going to stay in the country vein. I have had some wonderful success with Gospel, but it’s all pretty much going to be Country. I mean, listen to me speak. What else would I sing? For me, if we’re doing Gospel recordings or Country recordings, I can’t go too far away from what I do. If I did something that sounded like Pop, it would sound like I lost my mind,” he says with a laugh.
Randy Travis has come a long way from that wide-eyed newcomer that went on tour for the first time to promote his Storms of Life debut disc back in 1986. How differently does Randy Travis view touring now as to then? There are some differences, but also one thing is similar – he’s still proud to be where he’s at. “I wanted to be in this business, and I wanted to be a writer and a singer. I had been turned down by every label in town for about ten years. So, when I finally got signed, and things started happening, I was kind of shocked, to be honest with you, so I mush have had that deer in the headlights look quite often. A few years had to go by before I could see what was happening. I look at it now compared to then, and I’ve always been grateful to be in this business, but to be able to do it now, I’m probably more grateful than ever to have an audience to play for, and still record.”
One thing that has changed is the fact that Randy can’t include all his hits in his show. There’s simply too many of them. Asked if his long run of success has had an effect on song selection for his shows, he says “It definitely has. With anyone who has been recording for a number of years, you come to that point where you realize you can’t do them all. I try to keep the songs that were the biggest hits that people expect to hear – like ‘On The Other Hand,’ ‘1982,’ or ‘Three Wooden Crosses.’ That has been an issue,” says the singer.
Over the years, Randy has included many of the cuts from his Gospel albums in his stage shows. For most of his fans, he feels it’s a natural progression, as many of his older hits reflect his faith. “I have been doing that for quite a few years,” he says. “The first Gospel album, Inspirational Journey, came out in 2000. But, before that, we had done songs that speak of the importance of your relationship with God. If you look at a song like ‘He Walked On Water,’ there’s that reference that lets you know the writer knew something about scripture when he wrote that song.”
In talking with Randy Travis, it’s easy to see those emotions are something that have become a lot stronger with the passage of time. “As time has gone by, and we all get older, we start thinking about that relationship more and more and the importance of it. It’s always important to find songs that talk about that. My relationship with God has been a big part of getting me through some hard times – some ups and downs personally, and business-wise.”
The singer, who has seen many changes in the way music is recorded and marketed since Storms Of Life was released observes that “It’s a different world now. I’m recording – to begin with – where you used to have to walk into the studio and sing the entire song. There was no tuning. There was no shifting anything around. Now, we’re sitting here, and you can tune it or move it around. All of that is pretty amazing to me. I know nothing about tuning , but when I watch an engineer doing these things, I’m thinking ‘Are you kidding me? You just moved that vocal in the track from this spot to that spot? It’s changed a lot,” he says, and also says that the way his music is promoted is a lot different than 1986, as well. “It used to be that you released a record, the promotion staff calls radio, you have a hit, and you go out on tour. Now, if you don’t get airplay on radio, there are other avenues to sell, such as the Internet. It’s changed so much that I feel quite lost.”
Fans can check out his tour schedule, as well as all things Randy Travis by logging into http://www.randytravis.com/
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