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Randy Travis Says He and George Jones Had a Lot in Common

Randy Travis
Rick Diamond, Getty Images for Nancy Jones

Randy Travis delivered one of the standout performances at George Jones‘ funeral, and he’s just released a new single, ‘Tonight I’m Playin’ Possum,’ as a tribute to the iconic singer. In a new interview, Travis says he had a lot in common with Jones, both musically and otherwise.

“Both of us are obviously just country boys who came up through years of playing at nightclubs before actually having a record deal,’ Travis tells the Chicago Sun-Times. “We were both, no doubt, traditionalists all the way through. And I learned so much about singing from George Jones just by listening to him. There was a stretch of years where every hit he had, I was learning them to sing in clubs.”

That’s not all they had in common. Jones’ penchant for alcohol and erratic behavior was almost as much a part of his legend as his music, earning him headlines again and again over the course of decades. Travis has often admitted to a troubled youth that included drugs and alcohol, arrests and fights, and after decades of sobriety he slipped in recent years, resulting in a series of arrests and public embarrassments that trace back to alcohol.

Travis feels he’s headed in the right direction again. “I think that we all have to deal with certain setbacks and issues throughout our lives,” he states. “But, despite the challenges, I’m making my way back to where I want to be.”

That journey back includes a new album that Travis will release later this year. ‘Tonight I’m Playin’ Possum’ is the advance single from that project.

“I had a request through Warner Brothers to record the song as a tribute to George Jones, and after listening to it, I wanted to very much,” Travis says. “It’s just a wonderful piece of writing. And what I wanted to accomplish by doing it is simply what it is — a tribute to George. Many people in this business will say that he’s the greatest country singer that ever lived, and I agree. I thought a lot of him.”

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