Randy Travis's troubles show that addiction is messier than Nashville mythology often makes it out to be.
Randy Travis has had a rough year. Six months after an arrest for public intoxication, he was again booked for a DUI in early August after being found naked on the side of the road. Then his old truck was discovered, wrecked, in the middle of a field. Days ago, he ended up in the hospital after an apparent fist fight outside a church.
In the pop culture, this type of behavior inevitably leads to jokes—and indeed, observers have leveled YOLO cracks and comparisons to Charlie Sheen. But country-music culture has historically offered only two options for those who drink to excess (at least where drinking to excess is defined as a problem—there are dozens of songs where overindulging is a goal, or a reasonable solution to the lovelorn): Either wait to be redeemed, or wait to die. Travis, though, isn't fitting so neatly into either narrative.
In the redemptive branch of country, the dark night of the soul is worked through, prayers and loved ones occur, people intervene, and at the end of the story, the person—song subject or real-life singer alike—is absolved and healed. The best example of this comes from the greatest self-mythologizer in country history. As popular legend tells it, Johnny Cash became so despondent that he decided to kill himself, entered Tennessee's Nickajack cave, was halted when he heard the voice of God, and exited the cave forever sober. And then there are the cases of people like Tye Herndon, who underwent a few public scandals resulting in a two rehab stints and emerged in 2010 with a Grammy-winning contemporary Christian album.