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Musical Icons Randy Travis and Josh Turner Deliver ‘Three Wooden Crosses

“Three Wooden Crosses” is a significant song in the career of Randy Travis. Released in 2002, it marked a triumphant return to the top of the charts for Travis, who hadn’t had a No. 1 hit in almost a decade. This song stood out not only as a country music hit but also as a gospel classic. It was released through a collaboration between Warner Bros Nashville and Word Records, with the latter being the first Christian label to have a single reach No. 1 on the country charts. The emotional depth and themes of faith and redemption in “Three Wooden Crosses” have resonated with listeners since its release.

The song was crafted by songwriters Kim Williams and Doug Johnson. Johnson conceived the idea of the song’s central characters – a farmer, a teacher, a preacher, and a hooker – on their way to Mexico. He found the mix of these characters intriguing and, with the first verse and melody coming naturally to him, he approached Williams to develop the song further. They focused on creating a narrative that highlighted themes of forgiveness and understanding, ultimately deciding that the hooker would be the character who survives, to have the most impact on the listeners.

“Three Wooden Crosses” became an instant success, largely attributed to Randy Travis’s emotive delivery of the lyrics. The song was featured on his 2002 album “Rise and Shine” and rapidly gained popularity, eventually becoming his 16th No. 1 hit. The song’s impact was further recognized when it won Song of the Year at both the CMA Awards and the Dove Awards. It has since become one of Travis’s signature songs, to the extent that in 2009, he named a compilation album of some of his greatest hits “Three Wooden Crosses: The Inspirational Hits of Randy Travis.”

The song has been covered by various artists over the years, including Josh Turner. Each artist brings their own unique interpretation to the song, while maintaining the powerful message of redemption and grace that made it so impactful. Turner’s rendition, like Travis’s original, captures the emotional depth and narrative strength of the song, continuing to endear it to audiences both old and new.

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