I witnessed country stars Josh Turner and Randy Travis do something I’ll never forget

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Music speaks to the soul like few other things do.  The older I get, I think this becomes more and more true.  Each year adds a year’s worth of experience to our life resume’, and each year we’re likely to relate with more songs.  For example, I’ve heard a lot of songs on the topic of divorce, but until I went through my own painful divorce nine years ago, I’m not sure I was even paying attention to them.  I definitely do now.

I listen to all kinds of music, but if I really want to hear a story, I tend to go either towards country or gospel.  Both of those forms came from the same roots (along with the blues), and all three of those genres are built on the idea that things might be bad now, but they’re going to get better.  They tell a story.  These songs have lifted me out of a lot of pits, and sometimes they’ve provided me a place to process some very deep feelings.

These songs have lifted me out of a lot of pits, and sometimes they’ve provided me a place to process some very deep feelings.

I remember really falling in love with country music in the 90’s.  Up until then I had pretty much been listening to rock music exclusively. Lots of new artists were coming out then, and some really great music was being recorded.  Many of those songs became classics.  Randy Travis had many hits during that time and he was always consistently great. “I’m Gonna’ Love You Forever” was a monster smash hit, and I loved the sentiment of it.  It was a song of proclamation and dedication from a husband to a wife, and it really spoke to me then as a married man, and haunted me later.  After Randy disappeared off the charts, I felt like I sort of disappeared too.

I saw Randy the other night. He was at Josh Turner’s album release party, an event to which I was fortunate enough to get an invitation.  An awful lot of water has gone under the bridge for Randy and me both.  I’ve gone through a painful divorce, and an equally arduous rebuilding process, and Randy has struggled through problems with alcohol, as well as a debilitating stroke.  So much has changed for both of us since the first time I heard his voice on the radio.

Before Josh played songs from his new album, he gave a special shout-out to Randy, saying how important Randy’s music, his style, and his career in general had been to his own music. Josh’s obvious admiration and appreciation for Randy was very evident.  He basically said that without Randy Travis breaking ground for him, there wouldn’t be the artist called Josh Turner that we know today.   I had heard Josh talk about Randy before, but never in person.  Seeing the look on Randy’s face was priceless. It was bittersweet for me, as I’m sure it was for the two of them.

The thing that was apparent to me is that the torch had been passed from one to the other. . .

The thing that was apparent to me is that the torch had been passed from one to the other, graciously given and graciously received.  And I’m sure there will be a time in Josh’s future when he will pass the torch to another young artist, someone who is unknown now, working on their chops even as I type this in some corner of the world.

Then, it hit me. Realizing that we’re here for a short time, and that we have an obligation to pass things on and pay them forward is a big part of what living second is all about. Our lives here on earth belong to each other. The way we live, the stories we tell, and the music we make will have an impact in people’s lives for generations to come. We have the decision to live a story that will inspire someone else to live second, putting God and others first. Living second is about humbly passing on the torch.

Living second is about humbly passing on the torch.

I think Randy has known this for quite some time, and from the look on Josh’s face and the things that he had to say, I think he knows it too.

Reprinted with permission from I Am Second, 2017.