Back in 2020, The U.S. Army’s bluegrass ensemble Country Roads put on a heck of a performance, which included a bluegrass version of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” and John Denver’s “Country Roads.
It also included a beautiful cover of “Travelin’ Soldier,” one of The Chicks most heart wrenching and poignant songs.
Originally written and recorded by Bruce Robison in 1996, “Travelin’ Soldier” tells the story of a teenage soldier who has been drafted in the Vietnam War and the waitress he meets and strikes up a romance with.
The waitress writes letters to her soldier and waits for him to come home, vowing never to love another:
“I cried Never gonna hold the hand of another guy…”
As the song plays, you keep hoping and praying that maybe, just maybe, he will make it home, and the two will live happily ever after.
But he doesn’t make it home because he is on a list of names of dead soldiers that are read:
“And one name and nobody cared But a pretty little girl with a bow in her hair…”
While The Chicks’ version is gorgeous as their vocals blend together, there is something incredibly powerful of hearing Sgt. 1st Class Tracy LeBrecque’s lone voice until the other singers come in.
That paired with the fact that they are soldiers who are singing means that this version of the song may be even more a tearjerker than The Chicks or the original by Bruce Robison, and even the other popular cover by Cody Johnson.
I also highly recommend watching Sgt. LeBrecque’s facial expressions as she sings because her performance will pull you into the song and make you believe she was the waitress (or the soldier).
But don’t stop listening to the performance once “Travelin’ Soldier” is over because Country Roads’s bluegrass version on “Rocket Man” was not something I knew I needed in my life, but it is now my favorite thing.
It reminds me of the bluegrass versions of his own songs Sturgill Simpson released back in 2020 as well.
And their version of “More Than A Name On A Wall” will bring you back to the tears you cried during “Travelin’ Soldier.”
The entire performance is just awesome, and I highly recommend watching the entire video.