Every #1 Single of the Nineties: Randy Travis, “Before You Kill Us All”

“Before You Kill Us All”

Randy Travis

Written by Max T. Barnes and Keith Follesé

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

May 6, 1994

Randy Travis previews his strongest studio set of the nineties.

The Road to No. 1

Randy Travis had kept a fairly low profile at radio since “Look Heart, No Hands” went No. 1 back in early 1993.  After “An Old Pair of Shoes” peaked outside the top twenty, he turned his focus to his television movie Wind in the Wire and its accompanying soundtrack.  Its two singles missed the top forty, his lowest showings since before “1982” became his breakthrough hit.   Travis took longer to make his next album, This is Me, than any of his studio sets to date, taking the time to find the best material, and radio responded warmly to his return.

The No. 1

Remember back when I wrote about “Hard Rock Bottom of My Heart” and complimented this man’s ability to make sympathetic characters out of lousy spouses?

This is a more lighthearted variation on that skill of his, as he gives the father of all guilt trips to his departed lover.   He accepts the blame, mind you: “I know I had it coming and it’s all my fault.”

But come on, honey.  Everybody’s dying without you here.

You wouldn’t think this could be stretched out to an entire song.  But the songwriters pull it off with such finesse that even 28 years later, I can’t help but smile at the sheer audacity of it all.  The plants are dying, the dog won’t eat, and the cat’s down to three more lives.

So yeah, he takes the blame for the breakup, but doesn’t really:  “You’ve turned us all into nervous wrecks. We just sit around wondering who’s gonna be next.”

You root for her to come back and understand why she had to leave at the same time.   He’s the ultimate lovable louse.

The Road From No. 1

Travis tops the charts again with his next single, which is one of his all-time best.

“Before You Kill Us All” gets an A.


Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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  1. Fun. Just smile inducing fun. The premise of the song is absurd but the songwriting and performance are brilliant.

    The best country music songwriting doesn’t get enough credit for its ability to convincingly elicit real emotions from outrageous scenarios. Songs like this are sonic parables!

    Need I say again just how otherworldly good Randy Travis was?

  2. This is indeed head and shoulders above most other silly ditties that were being sent to radio around this time, because the silliness of it actually works well, and you can’t help but smile and chuckle at it. And also…well, it’s Randy Travis.

    With that said, this is still not really one of my favorites of his because, to me, other than “Would I,” it’s his most “mid 90’s” sounding single, and it still screams “1994” to me. Also, remember when I mentioned my peeve of those distorted electric guitars featured in many upbeat cuts from around this time in Mark Chesnutt’s “It Sure Is Monday”? Yeah, I’m not really a fan of them here, either, and it just sounds dated to me. I will say that I love that cool spooky sounding guitar solo during the instrumental break, though! Almost reminds me of the Twilight Zone theme. The music video is also pretty cute.

    The rest of the singles off this album are more my speed, especially “This Is Me” and “The Box,” which are as timeless as most all of his other singles.

  3. Interestingly, this is the song that was on the charts when I got into country music, but I didn’t really appreciate it until I read a write up about it from you years ago. Now, I think it’s quite hilarious!

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