Because I have been recording my records to mp3, my phone mostly has my older music, before I started to listen to country. The closest I have been to Country for a while is recording Eagles and Dr Hook LPs.
I realized that I was missing real Country on my drives to and from work. Some months age I stumbled on a Best Of Randy Travis CD whilst doing the grocery shop. I admit I don’t know Randy anywhere near as well as Garth Brooks, George Strait and Alan Jackson but his song Three Wooden Crosses was a part of what turned me into a Country fan. I know my lady likes Randy so I bought the CD for her as a gift with the knowledge I would pop it on my phone too.
Yesterday was the first time I have actually played the album for myself and after many months with little Country it came as a blast of toothpaste freshness as only Country from the 80’s to the early 2000’s can. The songs are simple and straightforward with a rod of irony twisted up the middle. They make you feel like you are listening to true, gritty life,even though they are cartoon simple. They make you feel better about your own frustrations, better even than Metal and the Blues. It’s an art form of its own.
The other art in Country is that (like Metal) the music is some ways formulaic. Country isn’t the place for experimenting with brain twisting fripperies. Country is the place for telling a story that is simple and focused. Tradition is the cornerstone of the form. If you think that makes it boring or irrelevant then you are the one who is missing the point as it is within the rules (traditions of the form) that the true art lies. Country pickers are some of the best sidemen to have, especially in a pick-up band as they know how to support the artist and make him look good. In case you doubt me take the case of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.
Back to Randy, he has a great voice and ability to deliver a line. I like the way he sings in his baritone, that appeals to the 80’s fan in me. I like the clean production and to the point-edness of the songs. That’s it, its enough.
Randy is a classy act and if you haven’t let yourself get to know Country yet then this record is a pretty good place to start. Spotify it now, go on, waddya got to loose but nothin’ worth a keepin’?