It may be too early to say that Randy Travis is “back,” but if his new single is any indication he’s certainly heading in the right direction.
“Tonight I’m Playing Possum” (streaming below) is a heartfelt tribute to George Jones, the late country legend who passed away in April. Stylistically, Travis has often been linked to Jones, thanks to his rich, warm voice (one of the finest in modern country music) and, like Jones, his penchant for traditionally minded arrangements and songs.
“I am very thankful I got to know George,” Travis wrote on his website at the time of Jones’ death. “He’s one of the greatest singers that ever lived. I actually loved the man and really enjoyed the time I got to spend with him & [his wife] Nancy.”
Written by Keith Gattis, this is the first song from Travis’s new album, which is expected to be released in the fall.
The two men are a great match on the song, their voices blending beautifully around lyrics that reference (and pay tribute to) a man who was easily among the greatest country artists of all time–and one of the finest vocalists of the 20th century in any genre.
Travis is a country legend in his own right. Among the genre’s most successful artists of past few decades, he’s sold more than 20 million albums and earned a string of No. 1 hits including “Diggin’ Up Bones,” “On the Other Hand,” and “Forever and Ever, Amen.” In recent years he’s been immersed in legal woes and found himself plastered across tabloids thanks to a series of drunk-driving arrests. He’s since claimed to have given up drinking and be getting his health, and life, back on track.
Musically, too, Travis appears re-energized. He recorded a CMT Crossroads special with the Avett Brothers late last year, two songs from which were released this spring as a limited-edition single. And now he’s unveiled this new song with Nichols.