https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HPl9Dlox00

“It’s not what you take when you leave this world behind you,
It’s what you leave behind you when you go.”

THREE WOODEN CROSSES IS RANDY TRAVIS’ 16th No.1 highest chart-topper—to date—to hit the Hot 100’s! Released under the Inspirational Label, World Records, it became the first Christian label released to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Country Singles chart.

RANDY TRAVIS’ CONVERSION

This country legend is symbolically recounted through the story being told in this song. Explaining to Christian Music Today, Randy states that

he came from an environment heavy on alcohol, drugs and arrests.I’ve heard people speak about how a vision or something hit them, like a light turned on, right then and there. For me, I was into my early twenties, and I went to bed one night and just started reading the Bible. That’s how the slow process of coming to understand that I needed to know more about the Word of God began, and then coming to the point of accepting Christ and water baptism.”

WITH FOUR WILDLY DIVERSE CHARACTERS: a Destination, a Melody and the right amount of Intrigue… A sure-fire formula to let songwriter Doug Johnson know he was on to something. He just wasn’t really too sure what.

“I WAS SITTING AROUND THE HOUSE ONE NIGHT,” Doug begins.

“And came up with the characters – a Farmer, a Teacher, a Preacher and a Hooker – all bound for Mexico. At the time, I thought it was a really odd grouping of people. But from that, the first verse and the melody of a song just kind of came out.”  Doug knew that there was something special in the characters and their situation. “I just had to figure out what was going to happen.”

THE MYSTERIOUS SCENARIO

This scene instantly grabbed Doug’s friend and fellow songwriter, Kim Williams.

“That was one of the best opening lines to a song I’d ever heard. I remember telling Doug that I didn’t know where this was going – but I couldn’t wait to find out!”

“That’s how it was for both of us,” Doug chimes in. “We just said, let’s jump into this thing and see where it takes us.”

DOUG DEVISED THE IMAGE of three wooden crosses by the road. Kim delved into a file of old notes to complete the moral to the story.

“I found a hook I’d written for another song that I never finished,” says Kim. “It went: It’s not what you take, it’s what you leave behind. That’s what we wrapped the story around with.”

THEN THERE WAS THE QUESTION of,

“which character would be allowed to survive?” “I think we both knew that it would be the hooker,” Doug says with a laugh. “It seemed to fit in with the theme of forgiveness and understanding that we were going for. I am always moved by messages of mercy, and by stories of outcasts who are saved by Love.”

FANS WERE ALSO MOVED

Three Wooden Crosses became the first song released on a Gospel Music Label to hit No. 1 on country charts! “The people definitely made it a hit,” says Doug. “They kept requesting it over and over. You also have to credit Randy Travis. He has such a great storyteller voice and he really put the song across.”

Adds Kim, “I’m just amazed at how the song unfolded. It was like the little engine that could.”

And Doug says, “This song was just meant to be, I don’t think anyone could have messed it up.”

 

ON MAY 24 of 2003, Three Wooden Crosses once again reached No. 1.

 

 THREE WOODEN CROSSES

A farmer and a teacher, a hooker and a preacher,
Ridin’ on a midnight bus bound for Mexico.
One’s headed for vacation, one for higher education,
An’ two of them were searchin’ for lost souls.
That driver never ever saw the stop sign.
An’ eighteen wheelers can’t stop on a dime.

There are three wooden crosses on the right side of the highway,
Why there’s not four of them, Heaven only knows.
I guess it’s not what you take when you leave this world behind you,
It’s what you leave behind you when you go.

That farmer left a harvest, a home, and eighty acres,
The faith an’ love for growin’ things in his young son’s heart.
An’ that teacher left her wisdom in the minds of lots of children:
Did her best to give ’em all a better start.
An’ that preacher whispered: “Can’t you see the Promised Land?”
As he laid his blood-stained bible in that hooker’s hand.

There are three wooden crosses on the right side of the highway,
Why there’s not four of them, Heaven only knows.
I guess it’s not what you take when you leave this world behind you,
It’s what you leave behind you when you go.

That’s the story that our preacher told last Sunday.
As he held that blood-stained bible up,
For all of us to see.
He said: “Bless the farmer, and the teacher, an’ the preacher;
“Who gave this Bible to my mamma,
“Who read it to me.”

There are three wooden crosses on the right side of the highway,
Why there’s not four of them, now I guess we know.
It’s not what you take when you leave this world behind you,
It’s what you leave behind you when you go.

AND ALWAYS…

May the Lord God Almighty Bless Us All and Set Us FREE!