February 12, 2009
With his new single, “Mid-Life Chrysler,” Collin Raye claims marriage and a motor vehicle as the ideal tonic for a middle-aged man.
Raye’s new album, Never Going Back, is due in late spring, and its first track is a step back into the spotlight after a brief hiatus from the Arkansas-born singer. His emotive tenor earned him consecutive CMA nominations for Male Vocalist of the Year, but he’s taken a back seat to his younger counterparts this decade. That voice is an old friend, though, and a welcome relief from the deeper-than-the-holler baritones that dominate the singles chart.
Raye is primarily known for his slow tempos, but he’s comfortable quickening the pace on this slice-of-life anthem. ZZ Top-like electric guitars kick “Mid-Life Chrysler” into high gear, and Raye digs deep into the groove. The story revolves around a farmer who doesn’t use fancy designer clothes or lurid love affairs to ease his self-doubt. Instead, this man’s wife and car are the only cures he needs, in sharp contrast to other males of his generation. “They’ve got lawyers and ladies lined up to take a chunk of their backside,” Raye says, cleverly recounting how many men stray at a certain stage in their lives.
The topic at hand is well-suited to the veteran performer; he turns 50 this summer. Now that Raye works for Time-Life Records, he’s unencumbered by commercial expectations and can sing about decidely un-youthful stories. His claim to fame this decade is his star turn in the infamous Fruit of the Loom commercial (“You Can’t Over-Love Your Underwear” is over-the-top genius.), and he likely wants to leave a lasting impression with more serious music this time around.
Currently, Chrysler is staying afloat due to federal loans. Will Raye’s latest single serve as an endorsement for the struggling auto industry? If shopping at Abercrombie and cheating on your unsuspecting honey are the other mid-life options, then putting payment down on a hot rod seems to be a much safer bet.
Written by Neal Thrasher, Wendell Mobley and Tony Martin