My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Classic Rewind: Randy Travis and Tammy Wynette – ‘We’re Strangers Again’

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17 responses to “Classic Rewind: Randy Travis and Tammy Wynette – ‘We’re Strangers Again’

  1. Michelle Aussie country girl February 6, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    I love this song Randy & Tammy are great together

  2. Luckyoldsun February 7, 2017 at 2:51 am

    Other than its lead single–the epic duet with George Jones on “A Few Ole Country Boys”–Randy’s “Heroes and Friends album was marred by weird song choices and pairings–like this one.
    .
    “We’re Strangers Again” was actually written by Merle Haggard and his one-time wife Leona Williams. Only later did I come across the original recording of the song by Hag and Leona from the early ’80s. It was something of a revelation. Their voices are great and actually blend together–and the lyrics fit the characters. Sounds like a hit, but unfortunately it stalled outside the top 40. I don’t know why. I guess Leona was just not meant to be a radio star.

  3. Luckyoldsun February 9, 2017 at 2:10 am

    Because Travis was still trying to be a star at youth-oriented country radio and he’s singing about a long-time love affair with a woman from the previous generation, known for once being George Jones’ wife. It didn’t work at all. The Jones duet, “A Few Ole Country Boys,” was so good because it was designed for the characters–the old master and the young gunslinger–and it fit.

    • Razor X February 9, 2017 at 6:56 am

      What does her age or personal history have to do with the song? The album was an opportunity for him to record with the people he listened to while he was growing up so of course they were all goinvg to be from a previous generation. You think someone listening to the song on the radio is going to think about any of that stuff?

      • Luckyoldsun February 10, 2017 at 6:40 pm

        Yes, I do think someone listening to the song on the radio is going to think about that stuff (not that anyone was likely to ever hear this song on the radio).
        Singers of popular songs are playing characters–and the records succeed if the characters are believable. Loretta and Conway were believable (so much so, that Loretta said that fans would come up to her believing she was married to Conway.) Johnny Cash and June Carter were believable–Their rendition of “Jackson” perfectly encapsulates the personas that they presented.
        The Travis duets album was marred by very weak song selection. It could have been a great album if they had picked songs that fit the pairings, or maybe even WRITTEN some songs for the project. It almost seemed like after they got the excellent Jones cut down, they just gave up and randomly picked an old song for Travis and each partner to record.

        • Razor X February 10, 2017 at 7:01 pm

          It’s a song on the radio – or on a CD. It’s not a movie. Age, looks, and personal backstories are irrelevant.

        • Ken February 10, 2017 at 8:52 pm

          Of all the absurd comments that you have made this one is among the most ridiculous. Yes there are some misinformed fans that thought that Conway & Loretta or Porter & Dolly or Bill Anderson & Jan Howard were married. But I have never encountered a significant number of country fans that believed most song lyrics accurately reflect the lives of the singers. Some songs are obviously autobiographical such as some of Johnny Cash & Merle Haggard’s songs and many of Hank Williams classics. However most people are intelligent enough to separate fact from fiction. They are interested in hearing believable performances of great songs that they can relate to. That’s what makes country music so appealing.

          And yes the Travis duet album could have used some stronger material. I don’t believe that any of the songs were “randomly picked” but some better choices could have been made given the great performers that they had to work with.

        • Luckyoldsun February 11, 2017 at 12:36 am

          Not sure where this comment will be placed, as some of them lack “reply” buttons, but it seems from your last paragraph Kenny that despite the now obligatory and repetitive invective, you essentially agree with me. Not the first time. Cheers.

        • Ken February 11, 2017 at 9:52 am

          I wouldn’t get too excited. Put a monkey in a room and allow him to strike random keys on a keyboard and eventually even he can create a cohesive comment.

    • Ken February 9, 2017 at 10:05 am

      WOW! Yet another oddball observation in your long string of bizarre (and wrong) observations.

      Do you actually believe that every duo that performs a song is actually living the lyrics? That is a completely absurd contention. In some cases the lyrics of a song may have a basis in the real world regarding the relationship of the performers but that is not a universal certainty. You must also believe that all actors in films are actually experiencing the same emotions as their characters. Hardly.

      As for your statement “Travis was still trying to be a star at youth-oriented country radio…” the reality is that he WAS still a major star at country radio when the duet with Tammy was released as a single in the summer of 1991. At that time Randy was only 32 years old which was right in line with the ages of many current country acts of that era. And country radio was several years away from becoming the completely youth oriented format that it is today so his age was not a concern.

      To be clear the duet with Tammy was released by her label [Epic] but by 1991 her star had dimmed to the extent that even a coupling with a current major country star could not bring her back into the top ten. It’s more of statement about the biases of the decision makers at radio than the quality of that recording as it was aired by very few stations. Randy’s subsequent Warner Brothers solo single “Forever Together” became a #1 hit so Travis didn’t have to “try” that hard to maintain his star status.

      The 1983 Haggard/Williams duet failed to hit mostly due to poor timing. Haggard’s career had been rejuvenated by a move to the Epic label in 1981. In late 1982 he released a duet album with George Jones and in early 1983 an album with Willie Nelson. So the Mercury “Heart To Heart” album with Leona was released into a market already loaded with recent Haggard duet projects. The single “We’re Strangers Again” was released just a few weeks after Haggard’s “Pancho And Lefty” single with Willie Nelson had charted and was already racing up the charts. The duet with Leona never had a chance as Haggard refused to help with any promotional efforts and Epic released a new Haggard solo single on top of it. Merle’s deteriorating relationship with Leona was likely at the center of that situation. She filed for divorce that year.

      Despite the drama their duet album is quite good. Haggard’s band The Strangers provided the backing tracks and the performances are first rate. Bear Family released that album on CD in 2001 as “Old Loves Never Die” [BCD 16411] and included all of Leona’s Mercury solo sides.

      • Razor X February 10, 2017 at 7:05 pm

        Ken, do you think this song could have been a bigger hit if Warner Bros. rather than Epic had released it? I’ve often wondered. Tammy was not a top priority for her label by 1991 but Travis was for his. I wonder if it could have charted higher with a little stronger promotion behind it,

        • Ken February 10, 2017 at 8:18 pm

          It may have helped if Warner Bros. had issued that single as an “official” Randy Travis release. If they had they promoted it as such and not released a solo single by Randy to compete with the duet it may have gained more traction. As someone who was working in the industry at that time I witnessed first hand how the winds of change had begun to blow so strong that pretty much all veteran country singers were unwelcome at country radio. The entry of a second or third country station into most radio markets created a competitive battle for the “new country” identity. No station wanted to be branded as the “old” country station and therefore appear un-cool to new listeners that coming to country music from other formats. It was believed that older acts contributed to a dated image so those singers were cast aside. Although George Jones released some good music during that era he had great difficulty getting significant airplay. His only top 10 hit during the 90’s was a duet with Randy Travis. Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson both had consistent hits throughout the 1980’s but disappeared from the radio when the 90’s began, You might say that country radio had hung out the “Older Singers Need Not Apply” sign.

  4. Razor X February 11, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    @Ken — yes, I can remember that time. All the veteran acts were cast aside literally overnight.

    • Luckyoldsun February 13, 2017 at 1:46 am

      Of the artists mentioned, Merle Haggard was consistently scoring top-10 hits into his early 50s. Willie Nelson and George Jones both had significant mid-chart hits into their mid-50’s–and Jones, in fact, had sporadic top-40 hits up until around 60. Hit radio has always been a young person’s game. None of those three artists, at least, were banished or disappeared from radio at a younger age than has been the norm for top country artists–both before and since.

      • Paul W Dennis February 13, 2017 at 7:06 am

        That’s not exactly true – prior to the 1980s older acts such as Hank Snow, Hank Thompson, Kitty Wells and Hank Locklin and such departed figures as Cowboy Copas, Hawkshaw Hawkins and Hank WIlliams received at least ransom airplay. During the “New Country” era veteran artists received no airplay at all and to the extent that these stations played any oldies, it was typically songs from a year or two back, not five, ten or twenty years back as had previously been the case.

        • Ken February 13, 2017 at 11:27 am

          I agree with Paul and will add that generally it was the age of the song and not the age of the artist that usually determined when songs were dropped from oldie rotations at country radio. Some country stations went a bit deeper in their oldies library than others depending on their geographic area and their competitive situation. As an example during the 1980’s most of Merle Haggard’s 1960’s & early 70’s hits were no longer played by most country stations but his songs from the late 70’s & 1980’s continued to be aired. But around 1990-91 a purge at most country stations removed even his most recent hits from the air. That purge included Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and major 1980’s acts like Kenny Rogers, Anne Murray, Earl Thomas Conley, Crystal Gayle and Barbara Mandrell. In earlier eras veteran acts gradually disappeared as their popularity faded and they no longer generated new hits. But the “New Country” phenomenon brought one of the most rapid transitions of artists that I’ve ever witnessed. Most veteran acts disappeared from country radio overnight.

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