This story has been updated.
Ever since the tragic health issues of Randy Travis took his Hall of Fame voice from us prematurely in 2013, it’s been a struggle to get by without any new music from the country legend. Travis recently celebrated his 60th birthday on May 4th, and the Grand Ole Opry paid him a proper tribute on the milestone. He also recently released an autobiography recounting his life in country music called Forever and Ever, Amen, with a special emphasis on his health struggles. But unexpectedly and with no fanfare, a brand new song from Randy has surfaced, at least it’s brand new to the public’s ear.
Called “One In a Row,” it comes from the archives of Warner Music Group Nashville, and was released on May 16th with nobody really paying attention or expecting it. Saving Country Music reached out to both Randy’s management and label, and they don’t even seem to know exactly know where the song came from, though they believe it might have been an exclusive release at one point—possibly to iTunes—that recently populated across all digital service providers. However it got here, it’s a brilliant piece of country music gold from a country legend we were thought we’d heard the last from. Now we have another Randy Travis classic to add to the collection.
UPDATE: According to numerous first hand accounts, “One In A Row” was an exclusive on certain copies of Randy’s 2008 album Around The Bend, possibly for people who pre-ordered the album for download digitally, or some rare physical copies of the record. It was not included on the widely-released version of the album, nor has it been made available to the public aside from those exclusive offers until now.
“One In a Row” was written by Buddy Jewell and Thom McHugh, and was the title track off of Buddy Jewell’s first, self-released record in 2001. When Jewell signed with Columbia Records in 2003 and released a self-titled album, he included the song on that album as well. You can hear why Buddy staked his early career on the song, though it was never a hit for him. A classic country heartbreak tune about trying to get over a love lost, it’s a perfect subject matter for Randy Travis as well, and you can tell by the tone in his voice it was recorded later in Randy’s career. With ample steel guitar and piano, the slow number speaks to just trying to get through a break up one day at a time.
“It’s my understanding that Randy actually recorded two different versions of this song for two different albums but it never made it on to either one,” says Buddy Jewell. “Wasn’t aware of the 2008 bonus track and since I’m one of the writers you think I would. Doesn’t matter to me. Absolutely tickled pink that one of my songs has been recorded and released by one of the greatest voices ever in country music. Thank you God and thank you Randy.”
After suffering his stroke in 2013, Randy Travis released his final two records, Influence: The Man I Am Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, covering many song that made a big impact on his neotraditional style over the years. Volume 1 also included a tribute to George Jones who’d passed away mere months earlier in 2013 called “Tonight I’m Playing Possum” written by long-time Randy Travis friend and producer Keith Gattis. We thought that might be the last piece of original recorded music from Randy we’d get to hear before “One In a Row” appeared. Unfortunately, the new song is not part of a new album some may be hoping for.
Randy Travis signed his first major record deal in 1985, and a year later was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. He would go on to sell over 25 million records, win seven Grammy awards, multiple CMA and ACM Awards, and be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016. Randy Travis continues to make efforts to be a part of the country music community despite his health issues, regularly making surprise appearances at concerts and country music functions.