“Heroes and Friends”
Written by Don Schlitz and Randy Travis
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
March 29, 1991
After a duet with the Possum fell short of the penthouse, Randy Travis returns to the top with a solo effort.
The Road to No. 1
Despite No Holdin’ Back producing three No. 1 hits, Randy Travis opted to move on to a new studio album project instead of releasing a fourth single. A labor of love, Heroes & Friends featured duets with contemporary and classic country artists. The lead single, “A Few Ole Country Boys,” was a collaboration with George Jones that went top ten. Warner Bros. chose to release the title track, which establishes the theme of the project but doesn’t feature a duet partner, as the second single.
The No. 1
Randy Travis had this brief period in the early nineties where he was still a young act, but seemed like an elder statesman of the genre at the same time, as a wave of even younger acts walked through the doors he kicked open.
So “Heroes and Friends” sounds quaint and a little dated in comparison to the other traditional hits dominating the radio in 1991, even though it touches on timeless themes and it is exquisitely performed and produced.
It’s a touching tribute to the importance of role models and the need for reliable friends, simplified in that way that makes it relatable to wise old gentlemen and young children at the same time.
It’s not one of his best records, and it’s not one of the best records of 1991. But those are both very high bars to clear.
The Road From No. 1
Travis released “Point of Light” as his next solo single, which was based on the aspirational inaguaration speech of then-President George H.W. Bush, and it was a top five hit. It was eventually included on his next studio album, High Lonesome. Travis would top the charts again in 1991 with the second release from that project, thanks to a fruitful songwriting collaboration with one of those rising traditional stars dominating the radio.
“Heroes & Friends” gets a B+.
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