“How They Remember You”
Written by Marc Beeson, John Osborne, and Allen Shamblin
I can’t help but feel bad for Rascal Flatts. In a word, they were victims of change in the 2010s. Others – Lady A, Little Big Town and especially Florida Georgia Line, in particular – edged them out as country music’s leading group. And to further add insult to injury, Shay Mooney (of Dan + Shay, no less) swooped in as an outright younger replacement for Gary LeVox’s high-pitched, squeaky tone.
Which is to say that, earlier this year, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak (or rather, its escalation), the group had planned a farewell tour to subtly acknowledge that changing of the guard. With that postponed, though, it seems they’ve taken to releasing new music instead.
On that note, “How They Remember You” can’t help but feel a bit “meta” in presentation and execution. The production is still overly slick and coasts on little more than a standard guitar/drum combination, but the mandolin inclusion helps this hearken back to the duo’s pop-country sound of their 2000s heyday.
Fitting, given how this joins the ranks of “My Wish” and “Bless The Broken Road” as an overwrought inspirational song, where the message is preachy but not pushy. It’s fairly obvious, though, that the questions asked throughout this song are aimed directly at the band members themselves, and the brighter energy gives it a nice pulse.
With that said, it wears out its welcome fast. We move from signing high school yearbooks to pondering death in almost a literal second, and by the time that first verse is done, all that’s left is to ask questions: “did you stand, or did you fall? Did you make them laugh, or make them cry?”
A convincing performance from LeVox keeps it just shy of cloying, but doesn’t make it all that interesting in the moment, let alone afterwards. It’s one of the group’s stronger singles in years, and they’ve certainly earned their rightful place in the country music history books, but I wouldn’t say their legacy is captured all that well in this one song.