Single Review: Tyler Farr, “Whiskey in My Water”

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February 10, 2014

Tyler Farr Whiskey in My WaterTyler Farr’s debut single, “Redneck Crazy,” became a hit in spite of the fact that it was about a good ol’ country boy stalking his ex-girlfriend, along with public drunkenness, loitering and probably half a dozen other punishable offenses. As good ol’ country boys do when they get dumped.

Based on that performance, it’s understandable to come to Farr’s second single, “Whiskey in My Water,” with lowered expectations. However, not only does the song not include any felonies, but it also happens to be a pretty strong mid-tempo love song.

Farr has a gritty, somewhat limited vocal range, and when he’s given a set of lyrics that references trucks and dirt roads within the first 20 seconds of the song, it’s easy to dismiss the song. “Whiskey,” written by Farr, Philip Larue and John Ozier takes the limited toolbox that country songwriters are using now and puts a few sweet lines together.

“Every day I pray I thank God I got her/She’s the moon in my shine, the whiskey in my water,” he sings. While it may be a clichéd lyric, it indicates a level of emotional attachment to the woman in question that goes beyond the mere lust that most male country stars sing about these days.

Farr’s debut album was a hit-or-miss affair and very much in keeping with the country-rap, frat boy atmosphere that is all too pervasive. However, many of the better songs, including this one, featured Farr as a co-writer. That may be a sign than there’s more to his music than chicks, trucks and beer.

Written by Tyler Farr, Philip Larue, and John Ozier

Grade: B

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  1. ThomasNo Gravatar says:

    Eh, Redneck Crazy wasn’t that bad. At least it had more personality than the average song on the air these days, not to mention an actual hook.

    This is better, though.

  2. Markus MeyerNo Gravatar says:

    This, along with “Hello Goodbye”, “Ain’t Even Drinking”, “Living With The Blues” and “Redneck Crazy” (yes, I liked it) were the saving graces of his album. Really liking this one, mainly because of the production.

    High B+/Low A- IMO.

  3. TomNo Gravatar says:

    …”redneck crazy” was arguably the best sounding ditty of last year. tyler farr’s vocals sound distinctive and rather pleasant – also on this one, which just lacks the melodic qualities and catchyness of his first hit.

    not bad, but nothing to write home about.

  4. ThomasNo Gravatar says:

    You know, I’m actually being way too hard on Redneck Crazy. It was a damn good song.

    I’d give it a B/B+ (B+/A- if we’re judging it against its peers), and this a B-/B.

  5. TomNo Gravatar says:

    …that’s what i call redneck algebra, thomas.

    (note to myself: this post kinda felt like talking to myself and yet so bro.)

  6. ThomasNo Gravatar says:

    Yeah, it’s a little weird, especially considering that I go by Tom in the real world.

  7. Six String RichieNo Gravatar says:

    This song just does nothing for me. Lyrically it’s pretty cliche and the production is really dull. There’s nothing about Farr’s performance that catches my attention and the semi hip-hop cadence he sings with gets on my nerves. This comes off to me as a “Drunk on You” rip-off. D for me.

    I don’t get why some people like “Redneck Crazy.” Even disregarding the disturbing lyrics, I thought the melody was really awkward and clunky and found the production to be very bland.

  8. ThomasNo Gravatar says:

    Personally, I didn’t have a problem with the lyrics of Redneck Crazy. They don’t even come close to getting as scary as “More Than I Can Do”.

    Actually, that’s pretty much why I liked it. It was safe, sanitized Steve Earle. That’s a lot better than most things on country radio.

  9. Six String RichieNo Gravatar says:

    I hadn’t thought about the similarities between that song and “More Than I Can Do.” Interesting. I still don’t like that song, though. Sorry I referred to you as “some people” in my earlier comment. That probably seemed demeaning haha.

  10. DDNo Gravatar says:

    What is so bothersome about the lyrics of Redneck Crazy? That makes absolutely no sense to me. Farr doesn’t actually mention doing anything? Punishable offenses? Hardly so. Aiming his HEADLIGHTS into her bedroom windows? Throwing beer cans at her SHADOWS? C’mon. This is ridiculous. There is nothng controversial about that song. If Martina McBride, Carrie Underwood, and Miranda Lambert can get away with singing about killing men, folks better not complain that Farr sings about standing outside her house and grieving. Complaints about RC’s lyrics are among the stupidest sentiments I’ve heard expressed by Country Universe recently.

  11. Six String RichieNo Gravatar says:

    DD, there are punishable offenses in “Redneck Crazy.”

    “Gonna drive like hell through your neighbourhood
    Park this Silverado on your front lawn
    Crank up a little Hank, sit on the hood and drink
    I’m about to get my pissed off on”

    Parking your car on somebody’s lawn without their permission would be punishable, it’s trespassing.

    ********

    “I’m gonna aim my headlights into your bedroom windows”

    “I’m the kind that shows up at your house at 3am”

    By legal definition, “an otherwise non-public individual has a right to privacy from: a) intrusion on one’s solitude or into one’s private affairs…”

    Shining your headlights into somebody’s bedroom window at night to watch them with a romantic partner would be considered an invasion of privacy and would be punishable.

    ******

    In the songs mentioned by Lambert, Underwood and McBride, the men they killed have abused women in the past which means the female characters possibly could have killed in self-defense, and could make that argument in court. In Farr’s song he commits offenses because he was cheated on by an ex. I don’t however, care for those songs by the above women though, simply because they kind of advocate murder and can be misinterpreted.

    It’s not stupid to complain about the lyrics of “Redneck Crazy,” they do advocate breaking the law. If a man pulled his truck up onto your lawn at 3 am, shined his headlights in your bedroom window and threw beer cans at your shadow, would you be okay with it?

    What if it was your daughter in the situation described in that song? Would you be okay with it then?

  12. DDNo Gravatar says:

    @Six String Richie: OK. I see what you’re saying. I don’t have children, but it would be a little creepy if something like this were to happen to a theoretical child of mine.

    It just seems to me that the intent of the writers was to say things particularly inoffensive. If Farr wanted to make a really crazy revenge song, he would have mentioned doing things a little bit wilder than the offensives mentioned. I doubt the writers had realized that the things they mentioned could be considered illegal, whereas songs about murder undeniably condone breaking the law.

    I’m glad to hear that you don’t support those three songs I wrote about earlier. It seems some folks place a double standard on men and don’t mind hearing women sing about murder. Like you said, in the case of “Independence Day” and “Gunpowder and Lead,” the woman was being abused, and country radio didn’t treat either of those songs any better than they did “Redneck Crazy,” but Carrie Underwood’s “Two Black Cadillacs” was a #1 hit and actually condoned killing a man simply for HAVING A MISTRESS. That’s disgusting in my opinion. Anyway, it’s nice to know there are some level-headed, fair and balanced people out there! :-)

  13. Six String RichieNo Gravatar says:

    @DD: Yeah, I agree with you in that I don’t think the writers of that song wanted to make a song that was disturbing but somewhere along the way got a little lost.

    Overall, I’m really tired of songs where women kill their cheating husbands or go crazy in some other manner. Most rational people handle break-ups and cheating in much calmer, more reasonable ways. If country is music about real life, maybe they should depict a break-up in a realistic way. Just a thought.

  14. ThomasNo Gravatar says:

    I’m on the other side. I think that they did want to make a disturbing song, but castrated it because they didn’t want audiences to be threatened, or be challenged, by it.

    After all, it’s mainstream country music, not art.

  15. Noah EatonNo Gravatar says:

    Sam, I wouldn’t be THAT generous, but I do agree it has a little more welcome earnestness and warmth compared to most other frat-”country” offerings of late, and this is passable.

    Some aspects of the production are a bit abrasive, which remind me of the Foo Fighters actually. They’re too loud for my tastes. However, I also kind of like that this song maintains a semi-melancholic air to it, such as Farr’s evident longing for the day to end (“I’ve been waiting for it all damn day, I can hardly wait…”)………..which fits the overall mood this song is attempting to set.

    Much for the same reason “Night Train” was elevated by the semi-melancholic sense of urgency Aldean and the song’s production effectively displayed, “Whiskey In My Water” achieves the same successful results in spite of the cluttered production and the fact it’s a frat-”country” song.

    I’m feeling a modest B- to strong C+ on this one. Needless to say, this passes.

  16. Noah EatonNo Gravatar says:

    On the note of “Redneck Crazy”, by the way, it topped my Worst Singles of 2013 list for the simple fact it is not merely a terrible song, but also a dangerous song which will only encourage some listeners to legitimize such douchery and potential domestic abuse.

  17. ThomasNo Gravatar says:

    I’m just gonna trot out the “More Than I Can Do” comparison again. Redneck Crazy is super, super sanitized, as such songs go.

    I’m not even going to start to compare it to songs like “Before He Cheats,” or “Two Black Cadillacs” (neither of which are any more interesting lyrically than Redneck Crazy), because it’s nowhere near as “dangerous” as songs which not only describe, but celebrate actual violence and property damage.

    Anyway, isn’t art supposed to challenge the viewer? I’d rather a song like Homeboy, whose speaker I find repellent, than one like “The Outsiders.”

  18. Noah EatonNo Gravatar says:

    For the record, I’ve always strongly disliked “Before He Cheats” myself, and agree the legacy that song has enjoyed raises a lot of disconcerting questions about where we are culturally.

    Still, I have to say “Redneck Crazy” is at a whole other level of dangerous. Because while the narrator of “Before He Cheats” is solely having a conversation with the song’s listener and is more hypothetically arguing what she THINKS is happening to justify the vandalism of the supposedly-cheating love interest……….”Redneck Crazy” is issued DIRECTLY at the cheating woman and her partner, not to mention explicitly states: “I didn’t come here to start a fight, but I’m up for anything tonight.”

    So make no mistake: “Redneck Crazy” goes further out on a limb contextually than “Before He Cheats” and “Two Black Cadillacs” ever have.

  19. Six String RichieNo Gravatar says:

    To me, the danger of this song is that he claims that his behave is “redneck” and thus this is how rednecks are supposed to handle breakups. There are tons of high school aged boys these days that do things specifically because they are considered “redneck” and they think it’s cool to be redneck.

    For example, think about how many high school boys chew tobacco. I live in rural Kentucky and I think at least a third of high school boys chew in my town. They do it because it’s considered country and redneck.

    Or consider all the young boys you see driving jacked-up pickup trucks or wearing Browning clothing, or even getting the Browning logo tattooed on their body! They do it to prove they are redneck which they think is cool.

    My worry is that some young men are gonna hear this song and want to imitate it because it’s the redneck or country thing to do. Considering how many young people listen to country these days I feel like my concern is somewhat valid. This is also why the objectifying of women in country concerns me.

  20. ThomasNo Gravatar says:

    Two Black Cadillacs is about two women who murdered a man for cheating on them, but a stalker song “goes further out on a limb”?

    Also, you still haven’t addressed the similarities to “More Than I Can Do,” which is a classic Steve Earle song.

    Here are the lyrics:

    “I’m trying hard to let you go
    But it’s more than I can do
    And every day or two
    I wind up right back where I started

    I’m trying not to let you know
    That I’m still in love with you
    I can’t just sit home blue
    ‘Cause there ain’t no rest for the brokenhearted

    Just because you won’t unlock your door
    That don’t mean you don’t love me anymore
    No matter what you do
    Because you know it’s more than I can do

    You told me that I got to stop
    But it’s more than I can do
    And that ain’t nothing new
    ‘Cause we both know that I’m crazy about you

    You said you’re gonna call the cops
    But I ain’t gonna run
    Because you’re the only one
    There ain’t no way I could live without you

    You left me just when I needed you
    So l ain’t even close to through with you

    So, I’m never gonna let you go
    No matter what you do
    Because you know it’s more than I can do”

    Writing or recording a song is not the same thing as endorsing the actions of its speaker.

  21. Six String RichieNo Gravatar says:

    I should mention I never liked “Two Black Cadillacs” because the murder is not at all justified and seems like a total overreaction.

    Also, I’m more concerned with Farr’s song because it was a #1 country hit and reaches tons of people. Steve Earle’s audience is much smaller and his song wasn’t even played on radio (except a little in Canada) and his audience likely is smart enough to know not to imitate his actions. I don’t know if Farr’s younger, impressionable audience is old or smart enough to know not to imitate his music.

  22. ThomasNo Gravatar says:

    The only murder songs I like, personally, are Goodbye Earl and Independence Day (I’m not a Miranda fan. Yes, I know I’m wrong).

    I get your point, though, and I think it goes back to the songwriters not going far enough in making the speaker clearly unsympathetic and in the wrong. That’s also the song’s primary issue from a writing standpoint, IMO.

    Also, I’ve listened to Steve Earle since I was a freshman in college. Stupidity, not youth, is the issue at hand.

  23. Six String RichieNo Gravatar says:

    I also see where you’re coming from. I think our opinions on revenge songs are largely similar, we just disagree a little on this song but I see your point. Also, I don’t like Miranda Lambert either! I thought I was the only one!

  24. ThomasNo Gravatar says:

    Oh, this isn’t a revenge song, it’s a stalker song.

    Two different things, haha.

  25. Noah EatonNo Gravatar says:

    And yet you still have the lyric: “I didn’t come here to start a fight, but I’m up for anything tonight…”………to contend with.

    That’s, of course, an open-ended assertion to which we can draw all sorts of conclusions. The fact of the matter is, he doesn’t rule out physical harm. All options are on the table in his view. This implicitly endorses domestic violence, if not murder, as a legitimate possibility in confronting his grief.

    *

    Stylistically and in terms of production, I’ll admit giving “Two Black Cadillacs” high marks previously. But I’ve always robustly disliked the lyrics, and shortly after sharing my initial review of the song here in the comments, I regret not coming across more forcefully on its lyrics. You’re right. They are no better or civilized than “Redneck Crazy”.

    It speaks volumes about our culture when revenge fantasy songs rule the roost and have been normalized, while songs about making love to someone you love are flagged for inappropriate content! Or that songs about polyamory and open relationships are virtually absent entirely! =/

  26. ThomasNo Gravatar says:

    Again, I just don’t understand the need for a song’s lyrics to be safe or for the speaker to be sympathetic.

    There is no subject that a great song hasn’t been written about, from both perspectives. Also, I love songs where the speaker is the bad guy.

    It’s like when people were complaining about Eric Church for being racist because the speaker of “Homeboy” complained about his brother’s “hip-hop hat” and “pants on the ground.”

  27. Noah EatonNo Gravatar says:

    Fair enough. I can try and get behind your second point.

    So then, why the heck is the production in “Redneck Crazy” so painfully sterile and poppy? If you want to write a song from the perspective of a rabble-rouser or psychopath, fine. Be my guest. But at the VERY LEAST suit your production standards to actually reflect the character and set the tone. Because the way that it’s styled from a production standpoint, “Redneck Crazy” is exploitative in that we’re supposed to feel sympathy for the narrator and his broken heart.

    Also, you need a degree of self-awareness to pull off that type of song as well. I believe there is a place for depicting dark characters and points of view on country radio, obviously. But whether a respective effort succeeds or fails depends on execution. At least Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert sometimes choose styles that fit the mood and tone of their revenge fantasies, though the lack of self-awareness often doom them. With “Redneck Crazy”, Farr’s producer doesn’t even get the former right.

  28. ThomasNo Gravatar says:

    I agree that they didn’t execute it well, I just don’t have a problem with the idea of the song.

    It felt like the song was fighting with itself, to me. Like Farr wanted to go dark, but got overruled in production.

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