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Throwback to Randy Travis’ 1988 Hit Single “Honky Tonk Moon” 

Throwback to Randy Travis’ 1988 Hit Single “Honky Tonk Moon” 
by
  • Riley is a Senior Country Music Journalist for Country Thang Daily, known for her engaging storytelling and insightful coverage of the genre.
  • Before joining Country Thang Daily, Riley developed her expertise at Billboard and People magazine, focusing on feature stories and music reviews.
  • Riley has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Belmont University, with a minor in Cultural Studies.

Released in June 1988, one of Randy Travis’ best hits was the single “Honky Tonk Moon” written by singer-songwriter Dennis O’Rourke. It was the lead track to Travis’ third studio album Old 8×1, that peaked at No.1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts for one week. The song became the singer’s seventh and fifth consecutive chart-topper in the United States. It also flew up to the charts of Canadian RPM Country Tracks at No. 1.

Written by singer-songwriter Dennis O’Rourke, the throwback vibes of the song suit Travis’ style. Boston native O’Rourke wasn’t born in a place full of honky tonks. Still, after joining the Merchant Marines and spending time singing at pubs and hotels in Ireland, he released his album in 1981, moved to Nashville, and scored a Travis hit after years of penning and pitching records. 

“Honky Tonk Moon” came to many trials before it arrived at Travis’ hands. O’Rourke used to play the song live for a year before submitting a demo for a record deal. Unfortunately, it didn’t immediately get him what we wanted. Still, thanks to his producer, Dennis Burnside, a copy of his demo impressed A&R executive Martha Sharp enough for her to pass the tape to Travis and his producer, Kyle Lehning.

The same year of the song’s release was the success of Travis’ other smash hit, “I Told You So,” making him a prominent figure in country music in the 80s. 

Meaning Behind the Song

Randy Travis’ “Honky Tonk Moon” brings the calm satisfaction of walking into an old drinking establishment with your lover. Imagine a place where you and your lover could enjoy the night peacefully, a bar isn’t really ideal for an intimate, romantic spot, but without the reference to beer, whiskey, or any liquor, the song offers a warm invitation to a safe haven. Like the moon, the song gently energizes the spark that ignites the couple in the song. 

“I got a boot out of bringing off that image of a nice evening in the country and a little honky tonk, without mentioning swelling down warm beers,” the songwriter Dennis O’Rourke told Billboard Book Of #1 Country Hits.

Travis has been familiar with honky tonks at a young age. He had a turbulent relationship with alcohol at age 11 when he started drinking and consumed drugs. By 16, he had numerous arrests for breaking and entering as well as outrunning police officers. 

Despite the singer’s past, the song mirrors the undisturbed life Travis desires to have. With its mellow rhythm and doting lyrics, Randy Travis’ “Honky Tonk Moon” will take you back to an 80s hit that shows the love of two partners having a good time.

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