This is one of Tim McGraw’s most polarizing singles, with perhaps more falling down on the “hate it” than the “love it” side of things.
I love it. I really do. Part of that love is from a combination of the vivid imagery and McGraw’s plaintive vocal performance.
But a much bigger part comes from the second verse where the narrator dreams about his father. Their relationship is idyllic in his subconscious but was distant and cold in reality. That verse is so well-crafted, and McGraw delivers it so masterfully that it always surprises me, no matter how many times I hear it. It’s amazing to see how far he came from “Don’t Take the Girl”, where you can hear the tragedy coming from three verses away, so dripped is his voice in cloying sentimentality.
I get why some people aren’t crazy about this one. It is, after all, about a guy who cries in a supermarket parking lot, and then at a grave site, and then after tucking his little girls into bed. But I guess that instead of coming off as wimpy or sappy to me, it feels more like a guy who didn’t come from a loving home feeling the pain of the little boy and his mother, and later feeling deep appreciation for his own love being reflected in his little girl’s “I love you, Dad.”
After all , there aren’t that many folks out there who get the perfect childhood and then go on to provide it to their children. Even those who have never known a broken home have usually known a few shattered windows. “Grown Men Don’t Cry” makes its fair share of eyes roll upward, but quite a few of those eyes prove the title wrong because it hits so close to home.
Written by Tom Douglas and Steve Seskin
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