Randy Travis in critical condition following stroke, surgery

Country musician Randy Travis remained in critical condition Thursday morning after surgery in a Texas hospital following a stroke Wednesday night. He had been receiving treatment for heart failure at the hospital when he suffered the stroke:

The setback occurred hours after doctors said Travis was showing signs of improvement since the start of treatment Sunday for congestive heart failure.

It was not clear what kind of stroke Travis suffered. The most common type of stroke is caused by a blood clot that travels to the brain. The other kind happens when a blood vessel in the head bursts or leaks. Stroke patients who get treatment quickly are usually given a drug to dissolve the clot that caused the stroke.

Drs. William Gray and Michael Mack of the Baylor Health Care System in Texas described Travis’ condition and hospitalization in a video statement earlier Wednesday.

“His condition has stabilized, and he has shown signs of improvement,” Mack said in the video. “On behalf of Mr. Travis’ family, friends and associates, we would like to express our extreme gratitude for the overwhelming affection and support that Mr. Travis has received.”

The “Three Wooden Crosses” singer was in good health until three weeks before he was hospitalized, when he contracted a viral upper respiratory infection, Gray said.

The viral illness led to a weakened heart muscle that eventually worsened into heart failure.

Travis was admitted to Baylor Medical Center McKinney near his home in Tioga, about 60 miles north of Dallas, through the emergency room Sunday. The singer underwent a procedure to have a pump inserted by catheter that helps increase blood flow before being transferred to The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano.

Travis’ illness comes as he’s been trying to put his life back together following a series of embarrassing public incidents involving alcohol. Travis pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated in January following an arrest last year and received two years of probation and a $2,000 fine. He was required to spend at least 30 days at an alcohol treatment facility and complete 100 hours of community service.

Associated Press

Country star Randy Travis was out of surgery but in critical condition after suffering a stroke at a Texas hospital. (Associated Press)

The Associated Press assembled this list of Travis’s five best songs:

— “Three Wooden Crosses” — Released in 2002 during his gospel period, this song returned Travis to the top of the charts after a nine-year absence. The song’s narrator refers to three crosses seen alongside the road and tells the story of a crash survivor. Travis opens the song by singing, “A farmer and a teacher, a hooker and a preacher, riding on a midnight bus bound for Mexico ... “ and it unfolds like a heartbreaking mystery. The song won the Country Music Association’s song of the year award and a Dove Award as well.

— “Forever and Ever, Amen” — Driven by a subtle but bouncy bass line, this love song is told from the perspective of a free spirit trying to convince the woman he loves that he’s ready to settle down. “I’m gonna love you forever and ever/forever and ever, amen,” Travis sings in his mellow baritone on the chorus, and by the end of the song he’s got you convinced. Released in 1987, the song was Travis’ third No. 1 and won the Grammy Award for best country & western song and the Academy of Country Music’s song of the year.

— “Angels” — This post-9/11 song is Travis as evangelist. The song begins with a bunch of friends sitting around talking about “politics, religion love and life” in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks when one says he doesn’t believe in angels. Travis preaches, “Are you telling me you’ve never seen an angel?/Never felt the presence of one standing by?/No robe of white, no halo in sight?/Well, you missed the most obvious thing/Man, are you blind?/Just look in your mother’s eyes.”

— “On the Other Hand” — This was Travis’ first No. 1 song in the U.S., but it required a little extra work to reach the top of the charts. Released in 1985, the song was Travis’ first single as a Warner Bros. recording artist, and appeared on his game-changing album “Storms of Life.” It initially drew little notice, but after Travis neared the top of the charts with his next single, he decided to re-release it in 1986. The rest is country music history.

— “I Told You So” — This Travis-penned breakup song was released four times over the years — twice by Travis, once by Carrie Underwood and with Underwood as a duet. That duet helped return Travis to the spotlight in the latter years of the last decade. He performed the song with Underwood on “American Idol” and at The Academy of Country Music Awards. It also returned him to the stage at the Grammy Awards in 2010 when it won best country collaboration with vocals. The lyric “Now I found somebody new and you will never break my heart in two again ... “ sums up the mood.

Associated Press

See images from Travis’s career below.

Max Ehrenfreund is a blogger on the Financial desk and writes for Know More and Wonkblog.
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