He’s one of the reasons I moved to Nashville.
His songs are part of what inspired me and my two daughters, in the Fall of 1995, to load up our stuff and head east from where we were living in Texas, not having any idea of how we were going to make a living or how in the world I would make my dreams come true.
Randy Travis is a country music icon and legend. And even more surprising, these past few years, a friend. From the early 80s until well into the 90s and beyond, his big voice and gentle spirit dominated the country music charts. Year after year, he won every award there was to win, and he did it all with grace and humility, something harder than you think to do with that much fame and fortune coming your way.
Throughout the years, I bought tickets to many Randy Travis concerts and sat in the huge auditoriums with thousands of other fans and sang along with every word of his songs. His music was a huge influence on me and my love for country music, just as it was for thousands of other would-be singers and songwriters who in time made their way to Nashville to follow in his boot steps.
Although for years even after moving to Nashville, we never met, in the early 2000’s Randy recorded one of my songs called “When Mama Prayed” which of course was a thrill for me. And then, once at a horse show in Texas around 2010, my wife Joey and I met his wife Mary, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be for our paths to cross with Randy, at least while Joey was alive.
But in late 2017 when I started performing again here in the concert hall here at our farm after Joey passed away, I looked down in the audience to see Randy and his wife Mary sitting in one of the front rows, cheering me and our family on as I tried to pick up where we’d left off and find my own place in the spotlight, for the first time without my beautiful bride. After the show, sitting backstage, when I asked Mary why in the world they would come to my shows here at our farmhouse, she smiled and said, "because we love great country music and great people, and we’re big fans of yours Rory."
I hardly knew how to process that. Randy was a big fan of mine? I would over time find out that they come to all kinds of shows unannounced. Big artists and newcomers too. Just to sit and applaud with everyone else. It turned out that after suffering the massive stroke that took his ability to talk, although it left him without the ability to sing, didn’t affect his love of country music. So he just decided that if he couldn’t be on stage singing country music anymore, he’d be in the audience from here on out, cheering on the singers and songwriters that he and Mary loved.
And so in the last four or five years, he and Mary have been to a number of my concerts here at the farm. This is a clip from one in late 2019 when my friend Bradley Walker was there too. But this time was extra special because Randy didn’t just sit in the audience. At one point, he joined Bradley and me on stage while I played and Bradley sang Randy’s big hit “Forever & Ever Amen.” About halfway through, the whole audience joined in, and then, at the very end, Randy himself sings the final "amen"…
There have been dozens of special moments and memories that have happened at our little concert hall over the years, but that had to be one of my favorites.
It’s true you know… Randy, we’re gonna love you forever. Forever & ever… amen.
PS - in late March, we’re going to host a very special Muletown In The Round at Homestead Hall with Paul Overstreet, myself, and a number of other folks. It’s going to be a night celebrating ‘The Songs & Stories of Randy Travis’ and yes, Randy and Mary will be there too.
Be sure to stay tuned for more info…