Having recorded songs such as "Tears of God," "Me and God," and "Long Black Train," country crooner Josh Turner isn't shy bout his faith. Recently, in celebration of CMA Awards' 50th birthday this November, the famed association has been pairing up contemporary artists with traditional country songs to bring the genre's fans some impressive covers in a series called the Forever Country Cover Series. In this installment, Josh Turner covers the Randy Travis classic, "Three Wooden Crosses."
"Three Wooden Crosses" the title of a song written by Kim Williams and Doug Johnson, and recorded by American country music singer-songwriter Randy Travis. It was released in November 2002 from his album, Rise and Shine. The song became Travis' 16th Number One single, his first since "Whisper My Name" in 1994.
It was also Travis's only top-40 hit on the pop charts, reaching #31 on the Billboard Hot 100. "Three Wooden Crosses" was named Song of the Year by the Country Music Association in 2003 and won a Dove Award from the Gospel Music Association as Country Song of the Year in 2004.
The song describes four passengers, a farmer on vacation and a teacher seeking higher education, a hooker and a preacher both of whom were "searching for lost souls", on a mid-night bus traveling from the United States to Mexico. The bus is involved in a fatal accident due to the bus driver not seeing a stop sign only to be hit by an 18-wheeler which kills three of the four passengers; because there are four people featured in the song excluding the driver of the bus and the trucker of 18-wheeler which hit it, neither of whom presumably died in the wreck, the lyrics ask why there are only three crosses and not four.
The song mentions that the farmer and teacher were killed in the wreck, with the farmer leaving a harvest and a son who would follow in his footsteps, and the teacher leaving knowledge in the children she taught. It also mentions that the preacher lays his bloodstained Bible in the hands of the hooker, asking her if she could "see the Promised Land".
The end of the song reveals that the story was being told by a preacher during Sunday church services. However, in a twist, it reveals that the hooker survived and had a son. The preacher telling the story is in fact the son of the hooker (holding up the bloodstained Bible as proof), who read the Bible that had been given to her by the dying preacher; in turn, her son eventually became a preacher himself. This leads to speculation that the hooker read the Bible, left prostitution, got married, and gave birth to the preacher at the end of the song.