Randy Travis grew up in a big family, but never had any children of his own. There’s a reason for that.
Travis — who just released a new song called "Fool’s Love Affair" last week — nodded in agreement as wife Mary Travis told Taste of Country about his raising in Marshville, N.C. and how that affected him as he got older. The couple also talked about his complicated relationship with ex-wife Lib Hatcher, whom the country singer divorced in 2010.
"His daddy was pretty tough,"Travis says. "A carousing sort of a guy, drank a lot, had a temper that couldn’t be tempered … was not real kind on a bad day, Randy said, but then there were these other days that were pure magic around the house and Daddy was the kindest, gentlest, sweetest man in the world."
Travis goes on to describe how Travis’ mother had a soft heart, and it’s that quality the now 61-year-old singer took with him when he left for Nashville in the early ’80s. His inability to have kids of his own was one of circumstance, she says with Travis in agreement.
"He wanted children," Mary says.
See Randy Travis Pictures, Through the Years:
Randy Travis, 1978
1978 was a big year for Randy Travis, who released his first album. For the album title, he used his real name, Randy Traywick. The album was released on Paula Records and it produced two singles, the most successful being "She’s My Woman."
"He wanted children, and I think his relationship with Lib, who was so much older than him and they were not able to, is what he explained to me,"Travis says.
Hatcher — who is 16 years older than Travis — was nearing 40 when the couple moved out of North Carolina together. They married in 1991 and were together for 19 years before divorcing three years prior to the singer’s devastating stroke, which is covered in quite a bit of detail in his 2019 memoir, Forever and Ever, Amen. His physical recovery has been a slow process, but mentally Travis is still sharp. Being around children is still something he enjoys quite a bit — he always has.
"Children are very special to Randy and he’s always had a very — you know, some people are magnetic toward children and animals, and Randy was always that charismatic,"Travis says. "If a fan had a crying baby, he would take that crying baby and put it on his lap, and maybe it was just that honey voice of his, that the baby would just look at him and be quiet."
Author Ken Abraham is the third person seen in the above interview with Taste of Country, filmed in May 2019. See more from that interview — including details about Travis’ life today — below.
More From Randy Travis’ Interview With Taste of Country:
See Randy Travis’ 10 Best Songs:
No. 10: "A Few Ole Country Boys"
Two artists with so much in common teamed up to record "A Few Ole Country Boys" for Travis’ 1990 ‘Heroes and Friends’ album. George Jones joined the singer for the song (two decades later Jamey Johnson would step in to re-cut it), both men knowing all sides of the struggles, successes and sins that can be found in Nashville. Listening to these two legends sing together is as good as it gets. It’s an all-time classic duet.
No. 9: "Angels"
While "Angels" is the lowest charting of any on this list of Randy Travis’ Top 10 songs, it may leave the biggest impact. Written and recorded after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, one finds the singer explaining why angels still exist. Along the way, it becomes the sweetest Mother’s Day song ever written. The spoken-word ballad barely made it into the Top 40, but it provided fans with yet another way to appreciate this singer.
No. 8: "If I Didn’t Have You"
"If I Didn’t Have You" marked the 13th No. 1 hit for the North Carolina country singer and was the first single from his first Greatest Hits compilation album. Travis rode this one like it was his own, though the track was actually penned by singer Skip Ewing and songwriter Max D. Barnes, who also scribbled hit singles for the likes of Waylon, Conway and Vince Gill.
No. 7: "Deeper Than the Holler"
You’d be hard pressed to find a country radio station that doesn’t still include this late ’80s hit in their rotation. "Deeper Than the Holler" is a vocal showcase for Travis, but he makes it seem so easy. The sweetness of the song’s message and chorus helped make it a No. 1 hit for a singer who by then had emerged as a bonafide superstar. "My love is purer than the snowflakes / That fall in late December / And honest as a robin on a spring-time window sill / And longer than the song of a whippoorwill."
No. 6: "Better Class of Losers"
Randy Travis co-wrote this song with Alan Jackson for the 1991 High Lonesome album, and it had no trouble reaching the Top 5. Although it was somewhat buried by Garth Brooks‘ "Friends in Low Places," this song is an equally satisfying way to embrace one’s country boy tendencies. Plus, it’s just fun to hear him sing it.
No. 5: "I Told You So"
As far as the best Randy Travis songs go, this 1988 tune is a real gem. It came during the peak of his solo success, reaching No. 1 in June. Then, in 2009, Carrie Underwood took it under her wing and gave it new life as a single. Just a month after her version dropped, she and the "Forever and Ever, Amen" hitmaker paired up to make a super duet version, which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard country charts.
No. 4: "On the Other Hand"
Randy Travis liked this song so much, he released it twice. The first time around, way back in 1985, "On the Other Hand" didn’t even see the Top 50 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. Following the success of "1982," however, Travis was able to send this one to the top when he re-released it a year later. In fact, it was his first No. 1 in North America! The then 26-year-old showed maturity beyond his years — he’d never even been married when he cut this convincing story of a man doing all he can to stay true.
No. 3: "Diggin’ Up Bones"
By 1986, Randy Travis was rolling. "Diggin’ Up Bones" made for back-to-back No. 1 hits — both of which are included on this list of his top songs. It’s no surprise that the Storms of Life album won Album of the Year honors at the 1986 ACMs. Comparisons could be made to George Strait‘s 2006 hit "Give It Away." Both songs rely on an easy tempo to hide the tension, but Travis’ hit is from the perspective of the scorned.
No. 2: "Forever and Ever, Amen"
"Forever and Ever, Amen" is perhaps the most well-known of Travis’ tunes, and that’s because it’s a simple and classic love song. Yes, it has made its rounds at more than a few weddings, but this hit has never been anything but faithful to country fans. As for Travis, how long will he hold his position as one of the most influential country artists? Forever and ever, that’s how long.
No. 1: "Three Wooden Crosses"
The 2003 CMA Awards winner for Song of the Year is Travis’ most inspiring song. By then, the singer had started to struggle to put hits on the radio. There was never any question about this beautifully-written song, however. His older, wiser delivery suited this story, which comes with a surprise ending that leaves many searching for a tissue.