CMA Awards 1988: Dolly Parton Sits On Randy Travis’ Lap & Makes Him Blush: “If I Was 20 Years Younger…”

Dolly Parton Randy Travis country music
CMA Awards/OnlytrueDiva/Youtube

Queen Dolly strikes again.

The 2023 CMA Awards are coming up in a few weeks, and while recent years have been pretty bland, the history of the show is rich with awesome stories and iconic moments that helped shape the genre’s image.

And many of the artists nominated don’t even sing country music, this year’s crop is much better than previous years (things are looking up, people).

Back in the day, though, there was a time when the CMAs nominated and gave awards to some truly great and legendary artists.

And, those artists knew how to have a little fun at the show, like the time Alan and George straight up skewered pop country on stage, the time Charlie Rich got so intoxicated that he lit John Denver’s envelope on fire, and more recently, when Sturgill Simpson trolled the entire show when he busked outside of the arena with his Grammy in his guitar case.

And ahead of the show tonight, I want to take a look back at the 1988 CMA awards.

In one of my favorite moments in CMA history, Dolly Parton about gave a young Randy Travis a heart attack right there on live national television when she sat on his lap proceeded to tell him if she were younger and single, it would be game over for him:

“Folks, you know that this guy is single.

And I just want you to know that if I was 20 years younger and I was single, and you liked little blondes with the big hair and big… ideas, then I would be giving you a run for your money!”

Randy took it really well, as I imagine any man would if Dolly Parton was sitting in his lap, laughing right along with everybody else in the audience that night.

Remember when the CMAs still had a decent sense of humor?

They wanted to mess with him a little bit, as Randy was still relatively new in the country music scene, and this specific year, he was nominated for Entertainer of the Year, Single of the Year and Song of the Year, and Male Vocalist of the Year, which he won.

The next year in 1989, he was nominated for Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, and Album of the Year, as well as presenting the award for Female Vocalist of the Year.

And, Dolly was put up to it again, sneaking up on Randy as he walked out to present the award, and it ended up being a hilarious little conversation that I really wish we had more of on these shows.

Ya know, a little personality:

“Hi Randy, I just wanted to come out here and make sure that you didn’t need me.”

And, as he’s clearly in on the joke this time and what’s happening with Dolly, he responds with the perfect line:

“Well, I might. It’s a tough job.”


It was all the start of a beautiful friendship, as the next year, Dolly and Randy would record “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” together for his 1990 Heroes & Friends record:


A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock