Flashback: The Avett Brothers Cover ‘Forever and Ever, Amen’
By the time Randy Travis released his second album, Always & Forever, in April of 1987, he had scored four consecutive Top Ten hits, two of which (“On the Other Hand” and “Diggin’ Up Bones”) went to Number One. So, anticipation was high for the sophomore LP from one of country’s leading neo-traditionalists at the time. Leading off the new album was the bouncy and romantic single, “Forever and Ever, Amen,” penned by Don Schlitz (“The Gambler”) and Paul Overstreet (“She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy”).
By mid-June 1987, both Always & Forever and “Forever and Ever, Amen” were ensconced at the Number One spot on the LP and singles charts, respectively, with the song logging three weeks at the peak position – and the album notching an impressive 43 weeks on top, while also becoming the first country LP to enter the Top Twenty on the multi-genre Billboard 200 in four years. Travis would also take the tune into the U.K. singles chart and to Number One in Canada, earning his first gold record for the track, which also won a Best Country Song Grammy and the ACM’s Song of the Year.
Between 1987 and 2002, six-time Grammy winner Randy Travis would score 13 more Number One singles, including “I Told You So,” later recorded as a duet with Carrie Underwood, “Deeper Than the Holler” and “It’s Just a Matter of Time.” He would also go on to several acting roles on both the big and small screens, before his career was derailed by divorce, alcohol-related arrests and severe health issues, including a July 2013 stroke due to a heart infection. In March of this year, Travis married girlfriend Mary Davis and the two attended the ACM Awards together where Lee Brice performed his beloved hit.
Another country act influenced by Travis is the Avett Brothers, who shared the CMT Crossroads stage with the legendary singer in October 2012 for the genre-blending concert series. During the taping, both acts performed “Forever and Ever, Amen,” with Scott and Seth Avett both taking a verse and the brothers, along with Travis and the Avett’s bass player, Bob Crawford, all harmonizing on the chorus. Just one week after the CMT taping, the Avetts performed at the Voodoo Music Experience in New Orleans. During an appearance at the event’s VIP campground, the brothers spoke about Travis and the taping before delivering their own unique version of the song.
“It was just crazy awesome,” Scott Avett told the attendees before they performed the tune. “We went back to listen to all those songs you couldn’t help but know, back in the late Eighties and Nineties, during a time when country’s changing so much. . . He was kind of a fish out of water.” In spite of their assertion that “nobody should ever really redo” Travis’s songs, the Avetts (with Seth Avett on acoustic guitar and lead vocal), went ahead with their cover version, adding a bit of bluegrass flavor to it, yet keeping their arrangement fairly close to the original.
Incidentally, the song’s lines, “Honey, I don’t care, I ain’t in love with your hair/And if it all fell out, I’d love you anyway” were a humorous tribute to Overstreet’s wife, Julie, who turned the hair of one of her clients green while she was as working as a hairstylist.
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