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If there's one Golden Rule in the music business, it's that timing is everything. Randy Travis knows that all too well - because the song that became his first No. 1 was actually a flop the first time he released it.
In 1985, Warner Brothers Records had just signed a young Nashville club performer from North Carolina. His real name was Randy Traywick, but he'd been using the stage name Randy Ray for several years. Warner Brothers had already turned the singer down three times for being "too country." The fourth time his manager sent Warner a tape, they decided to give Randy a chance - after they had him change his last name one more time, this time to Travis.
Randy's first single was "On The Other Hand," written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz. Don had several hits to his credit, including Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler," and Paul had penned George Jones' "Same Ole Me."
Ironically, Paul and Don were actually trying to write another song altogether 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 Paul. "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.' 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."
It was August 1985 when "On The Other Hand" made its debut - and died with barely a whimper at No. 67 on the Billboard charts. A few months later, Randy released "1982," which soared to No. 6. Then Warner Bros. did something very uncharacteristic of record companies - they re-released "On The Other Hand." This time the deejays knew Randy's name and distinctive voice, and added the song to their playlists pronto.
In 1986, both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association named "On The Other Hand" Song of the Year. In 1987, readers of Music City News picked it as Single of the Year. Timing is everything.
- Randy Rudder
"On The Other Hand"
Written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz
Performed by Randy Travis
On one hand I count the reasons
I could stay with you
And hold you close to me all night long
So many lovers' games
I'd love to play with you
On that hand there's no reason why it's wrong
But on the other hand, there's a golden band
To remind me 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
In your arms I feel the passions
I thought had died
When I looked into your eyes, I found myself
When I first kissed your lips
I felt so alive
I've got to hand it to you, girl
You're something else
Yeah, the reason I must go is on the other hand
ON THE OTHER HAND
Words and Music by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz
© Copyright 1986 Universal - Songs Of Polygram Int., Inc.
a division of Universal Studios, Inc. (ASCAP)
International Copyright Secured All Rights Reserved