Much of Randy Travis’ success can be traced to his first No. 1 hit, “On the Other Hand.”
The song was first recorded for Travis’ 1985 debut album, Storms of Life, but it was not released as a single. Following the chart successes of Travis’ next single “1982” – which peaked at No. 6 on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks – his label, Warner Bros., reissued “On the Other Hand” a year later. The song then became his first No. 1 hit in both the United States and Canada.
Meanwhile, his album “Storms Of Life” became one of the biggest-selling country albums in history, with more than four million copies sold.
The Song That Launched Randy Travis’ Career
Written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz, “On the Other Hand” tells the tale of a man whose conscience is getting the best of him when he found himself tempted to cheat with another woman. However, he has too much love, or at least consideration, for his wife to sleep with someone else, no matter how much he wants to.
“But on the other hand, there’s a golden band to remind of someone who would not understand. On one hand, I could stay and be your loving man, but the reason I must go is, on the other hand,” the song goes.
Songwriters Schlitz and Overstreet were actually trying to write a different song when they got the idea for “On the Other Hand.”
“We were trying to write a theme for another song. It was the idea that when you have one woman, you shouldn’t be looking for another one,” recalls Overstreet. “I personally was tired of that whole scenario of going from one relationship to another and not having the strength to really say no in tempting situations. I was hoping we could write a song that would say we had the strength to say no.”
“So right in the middle of that song, we kind of bantered some lines back and forth and Don said ‘but on the other hand,’ and I said, ‘there’s a golden band,'” he added. “From that point, we looked at each other and kind of got that glitter in our eyes and finished it real quick. Then we went to lunch.”
But did you know the duo envisioned the song in the grasp of Merle Haggard, George Jones, or perhaps Dan Seals, who was enjoying a successful run of hits at the time? So they brought the song to promoter Pat Higdon to relay it to Seals’ producer, Kyle Lehning.
However, a few days later, Schlitz and Overstreet were informed that though Lehning liked the song, he didn’t recommend it for Seals. Instead, he wanted to record it with a newcomer named Randy Travis. This got Schlitz and Overstreet looking at each other, saying things like, “Randy, who? What’s going on? Who the heck is Randy Travis?”
At the time, Travis was working as a cook and dishwasher at the Nashville Palace, a nightclub located at the outskirts of the Opryland complex, while moonlighting as a singer. But Travis’ baritone, a voice that was unlike any other, gave justice to the song that it quickly resonated with both male and female audiences.
Tune in below and watch Travis’ breathtaking performance of “On the Other Hand,” which helped the country singer emerge as a successful, mainstream artist.