Admin Post I just finished reading Forever and Ever, Amen; the autobiography of Randy Travis. I had been aware that he had a stroke, but had no idea of how severe it had been. He was a fit man and took good care of himself, but developed viral cardiomyopathy which led to a massive stroke. His entire story is amazing. He was raised around music and had an obvious talent from early on. He began his professional career when most Country was heavily Pop influenced. He was turned down by pretty much everyone in the industry, usually for being "too Country", but he persevered and eventually got his break. Before reading this, I had not realized just how rapidly he went from obscurity to stardom. He struggled for many years to be recognized, but when success finally came his way, it was quite sudden. Like many performers in Country, he all but lived on the road. The amount of touring he did was almost painful to read about. In my younger years, I might have been willing to tour, but it sounds like living hell to me, these days. But Travis toured and seemed to like it more than many of his colleagues. Once he started having hits, he really worked to make the most of it. One thing that came through strongly is his humility and appreciation for his fans, and for other musicians. He mentioned a lot of people and sought to portray them in the most generous of terms. He mentioned one musician negatively, but didn't name names. He told the story of his first marriage and, to be honest, I think he went easy on her. He definitely didn't come across as egocentric. The after effects of his stroke were devastating. Imagine being one of the most famous voices in music, and then not being able to speak. He has a degree of both aphasia and apraxia. Aphasia affects his ability to formulate words, possibly to comprehend the spoken word, to read, write or communicate normally. Apraxia is more related to difficulties in the physical aspect of speaking, just like a tremor in your hand would affect your handwriting, movement difficulties could inhibit your ability to form words. Interestingly, he is able to mouth some lyrics, with difficulty, but it would be all but impossible for him to learn lyrics to a new song, because he would have to put thoughts into words, anew. IOW, if he had said something before his stroke (such as memorized lyrics), it might be possible for him to say it again, but the process of converting new thoughts into words is much more difficult. Most of the time, he says yeah, or no, and that's about it. However, his ability to understand others and to be aware of the conversation around him seems to be unimpaired. The book was obviously written with the help of someone else. The same aphasia that prevents speech would also prevent complex writing. Apparently, the process of writing the book took quite a while, but I must say it worked splendidly. It does not come off as a ghost-written autobiography in any way shape or form. These are Randy Travis' thoughts and the consistency and sincerity of this book are obvious. He is also honest about his shortcomings, including alcohol problems at two different times in his life. There are some foolish things he did, and an episode when he drank after taking Ambien and ended up in a very bad way. Never did he try to sweep such things under the rug. Once again, I see this as evidence of his obvious direct influence in the book, in spite of his handicaps with regard to communication. Travis' truthfulness outweighed everything else. My greatest takeaway would have to be the respect he shows for others. I touched on it earlier, but I feel that it merits a bit more attention. His comments on other musicians are very positive. He seemed to have a good word for pretty much anyone he mentioned by name. Perhaps the most amazing thing about this is the fact that his words seem very sincere. He's not kissing up to anyone and it doesn't come across as flattery, but he seems to have a gift for seeing the best in others. The book reads as a very cogent narrative, and he got his thoughts across to the writer that assisted him, but at the very end, I came to realize that communicating this story had to have been a herculean task. Perhaps, of all his amazing songwriting and recorded output, this book stands out in my mind, because of the effort required to have written it. Highly recommended.