March 23, 2012
Honestly, I was never a huge fan of this particular Train hit. The lyric has a few interesting lines, but I couldn’t help but find it a bit schmaltzy and heavy-handed. Plus it’s like he just met this girl in a cafe, and he’s already getting ready to propose marriage? I would probably have liked the song better without “If I ever get the nerve to say hello in this cafe.”
So it figures that Martina McBride reworks it into a duet with Train frontman Pat Monahan (after having joined Train for an episode of CMT Crossroads), and I can’t get over how cool they make it sound.
Martina sings the first verse and the first chorus. Pat sings the second verse and second chorus. They split the bridge down the middle, and then finally we hear both voices blended together in harmony on the final chorus. And you know what? The two of them actually sounds pretty great together. It may seem like a simple reworking, but it totally changes the way I hear the song. We get to hear two different perspectives, and then in the harmonized final chorus, it’s as if we’re finally hearing two people come forward with their feelings for one another, after having previously kept such feelings to themselves. Nothing about this collaboration feels gratuitous – It really does feel like a reinterpretation that adds a new layer to the song.
It’s also worth noting that the acoustic country-meets-coffeehouse-pop arrangement will provide some pleasant respite from the typical country radio bombast. Overall, this is a strong single choice for McBride, coming on the heels of her first Top 10 hit in half a decade “I’m Gonna Love You Through It.” It’s one of the many interesting moments on an album that found McBride musically reinvigorated, and that ranked as her best effort in years.
Of course, it’s still the same lyric that I had previously raised an eyebrow over, but sometimes the ideal vocal treatment transcends a song’s lyric. At the end of the day, it’s the committed, deeply felt vocal performances, not to mention the soft-burning chemistry between the two vocalists, that makes “Marry Me” a memorable record. Better still, the McBride reworking of “Marry Me” displays a level of unexpected creativity that more mainstream country hits need.
Written by Pat Monahan
Listen: Marry Me