Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: Randy Travis, “Out of My Bones”

“Out of My Bones”

Randy Travis

Written by Gary Burr, Robin Lerner, and Sharon Vaughn

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

May 8, 1998

Randy Travis launches a new chapter in his storied career.

The Road to No. 1

From the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties, Randy Travis was the biggest superstar on the Warner Bros. Nashville roster.  We last saw him in this feature with the first two singles released from his 1994 album This is Me: “Before You Kill Us All” and “Whisper My Name.”  That set also produced the top five title track and the top ten “The Box.”  But his next album for the label, Full Circle, surprisingly underperformed at radio.  The 1996 release produced two top thirty hits: “Are We in Trouble Now” and “Would I.”

Travis exited the label and signed with upstart DreamWorks Nashville, and it revitalized his career.  The lead single from his first album for the label, You and You Alone, was an out of the box smash, and it returned him to No. 1 for the first time in four years.

The No. 1

“Out of My Bones” is one of the best singles that Randy Travis ever released.

The fiddle work is phenomenal, it’s lyrically strong, and Travis gives a spectacular vocal performance.  It’s one of those tracks from a veteran recording artist that instantly reminds you why you fell in love with them in the first place, while also breaking new musical ground that pushes their artistry forward.

Travis never stopped releasing quality material, but you could definitely hear how the younger traditionalists of the nineties were being more aggressive with their production.  On “Out of My Bones,” he sounds more vital and urgent than he had in years, as he reclaimed his rightful place on the genre’s A-list.

Find me anyone – anyone – who can do what he does vocally here on the intro to the bridge.  His reading of “Sweet amnesia” expresses more emotional layers in four syllables than most of his contemporaries could express in an entire song.

It may be a stretch to call a Hall of Famer who sold millions of records “underappreciated,” but damn, if you’ve forgotten somehow just how great he is, this hit will fully refresh your memory.

The Road From No. 1

Travis followed this chart-topper with another great single, “The Hole,” which went top ten.  We’ll see him at No. 1 again soon with the third single from this album.

“Out of My Bones” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

Previous: Garth Brooks, “Two Piña Coladas” |

Next: Faith Hill, “This Kiss”


  1. What a great, pleasantly surprising comeback this was for Randy! At the time this one came out, I was totally excited to suddenly be hearing something new and something quite different and fresh from one of my earliest favorite country artists after not hearing from him in quite a while. Randy’s Dreamworks late 90’s comeback era is actually one of my favorite eras in his career, but unfortunately, his work from this time period seems often overlooked in more recent years. “Out Of My Bones” is especially still one of my all time favorites from him that doesn’t seem to get enough love or recognition these days, so this review definitely makes my day! :)

    When I first heard “Out Of My Bones” on the radio in early 1998, I knew it was Randy Travis right away from that unmistakable voice, and it was just so cool to be hearing him come out with a new song from seemingly out of nowhere, since I hadn’t heard anything new from him in forever (I missed his mid 90’s hits when they were new). Up til that point, the only time I heard anything from Travis was if I happened to be listening to one of my old tapes I recorded in the early 90’s or my cassette recording of his Always And Forever album. As I said, I recognized the voice right away that sang “Out Of My Bones,” but the SOUND of it completely caught me off guard. Here was one of my early childhood favorite artists who was known then for his extremely rootsy and organic sound featuring simple, laid back arrangements suddenly singing along to a track featuring a current, much more aggressive sound. And mind you, I actually didn’t mind this one bit! In fact, I thought it was pretty cool that not only was Randy suddenly back, but that he was now debuting a brand new sound for him, as well. The new muscular production style featuring drums that kicked louder and guitars that rocked harder than any other Travis record before sounded great to my ears when it was paired with the trusty fiddle and steel, and his unmistakably country baritone. Not to mention, the melody was something a bit different for him, as well, which featured more of a pop sensibility than what he’d mostly recorded before, despite his voice keeping it firmly country. It’s pretty neat to learn that Robin Lerner co-wrote both this and Faith Hill’s “This Kiss,” since they both represented a change in direction and the start of a new chapter for each artist, and I definitely noticed those changes the first few times I heard each song. For me, Randy’s comeback launching single from the late 90’s still sounds just as great and refreshing as it did back then. And man, does Paul Franklin’s steel sound so great here, as usual! Still love the opening fiddle, as well.

    While “Out Of My Bones” may have been a departure for Travis, sonically, the song’s theme was definitely more familiar, with even “bones” in the title being sort of like a nod to one of his earliest smash hits in the 80’s (whether it was intentional or not). I love all the creative lines scattered throughout the song that suggest different ways to get rid of the memory of a past love that keeps on haunting him. I love the different cool metaphors, as well (ex: “Chase that ghost out from under by bed, Still these voices in my head..”) In fact for me, this is still one of the coolest and most creatively written songs about wanting to leave an unwanted love and memory behind, and Randy’s performance makes it even better with the signature heartache in his vocals and him truly sounding like a desperate man willing to take desperate measures.

    The very second time I heard “Out Of My Bones” was on a Saturday evening just when Dad and I had gotten back to my house, and we were both still sitting in the car when it came on during Chris Charles’ Weekly Country Countdown. I got all excited again, and told him that this was the brand new Randy Travis song I had just heard recently. It was Dad’s first time hearing it, and even he was pleasantly surprised to hear from Randy again, and he too acknowledged the new and different sound he had going. Not only was it great getting to hear it again, but it also provided a brief, but nice little distraction from the pressure I had at that time of having to do two big projects for my Language Arts/English class that were due next week (my Language Arts teacher that year was known for giving us a lot of projects to do, much to the dismay of a lot of us, lol). After the song was over, Dad was reminding me about the projects, which took me back to reality, lol.

    On following weeks, I continued to really enjoy “Out Of My Bones” on the countdown, and it just sounded so good during the still cold nights of late winter and early spring. By the time it became a big hit and eventually a popular recurrent in the Spring of 1998, my 6th grade year was winding down, and everyone was suddenly wearing warmer weather clothing. This is also yet another early 1998 song that reminds me of my parents and I regularly going to Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax, VA just about every Sunday.

    A few years later, just before the Cracker Barrel in Lancaster, Pennsylvania at the Rockvale Outlets opened up, I heard “Out Of My Bones” coming out of the speakers from the front of the restaurant where the rocking chairs and checkers tables usually are as I was checking it out for the first time. You could actually hear it all the way out in the parking lots all around. From that point on, this song always came to mind whenever we ate there, even as recent as the mid 2010’s, lol. Unfortunately, by then, they were mostly playing country that was no older than 2004. The last time we went there, they did, however, surprise me once with “Carrying Your Love With Me.”

    I was very fortunate to find two Weekly Country Countdown shows that originally aired in early ’98, with one of them having aired the first week of March. On that one, “Out Of My Bones” debuted on the countdown at #24. This MAY actually be the show in which I mentioned earlier listening to together with my dad in the car. Other songs that made their first appearance on the countdown that week were Lonestar’s “Say When,” Sons Of The Desert’s “Leaving October,” Alabama’s “She’s Got That Look In Her Eyes,” Mindy McCready’s “You’ll Never Know,” and Tracy Byrd’s “I’m From The Country.” Randy’s song is introduced with a recorded message from Randy saying, “Hi, this is Randy Travis, and we’re working our way up to number one!”

    You And You Alone is one of my favorite albums from Randy, as well, and I think it’s quite underrated/overlooked these days. Besides the singles, some of my other favorites are “I’m Still Here, You’re Still Gone,” “Only Worse,” “Easy To Love You,” “One Word Song,” “A Horse Called Music,” “A Satisfied Mind,” and the title track. I really love muscular production from James Stroud and Byron Gallimore that helped give Randy’s signature neo-traditional style an extra punch for the late 90’s. It’s crazy looking back and realizing that his comeback was launched on the same label that eventually took Toby Keith to superstardom, and he even shared a producer with Keith (James Stroud).

    “The Hole” was also a favorite of ours during the Summer of 1998, and it was one my dad loved, especially. One time we sat in the mall’s parking lot before we went in just so he could listen to the song, with him enthusiastically raving about it afterwards. My step dad got to really liking it, as well, one other time when we heard it together in our car. For me, I always thought of it as the song I first heard in the movie, Deep Impact (starring Morgan Freeman, Tea Leoni, Elijah Wood, and others).

    I also really loved seeing a bearded Randy Travis star alongside Patrick Swayze in the trucker action flick, Black Dog, in the Spring of 1998!

  2. The new muscular production style Jamie identified so clearly really was a much needed boost of adrenaline for Travis and his career. Thankfully, he is such a versatile singer that he is more than up to the challenge of playing with his already almost legendary sound. Without this renaissance in style and sound, Travis may have ridden off into the sunset as nothing more than a new-traditionalist, heading straight to the Branson circuit. Instead, he is relevant again with a vengeance!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.