Tag Archives: Tim McGraw

Single Review: Tim McGraw, "One of Those Nights"

Great hooks have become a dying breed in mainstream country music.  It seems every other single review I write includes criticism for a hook that falls flat.  Exhibit A:  Tim McGraw’s new single.

“One of Those Nights” could be seen as a step up from “Truck Yeah” – though that’s probably the epitome of a hollow compliment.  The production is heavy, and hardly country at all, but it generally avoids becoming a distraction until the overwrought finish. (A gospel choir?  Really?) The lyrics aren’t particularly original – a backwoods love story the likes of which we’ve heard a few times before – but they’re laced with a few details that lend a degree of interest to the story.

Yet the one thing about the song that I just can’t get over is the way it keeps repeating the phrase “This is gonna be one of those nights” as if it’s somehow significant.  It doesn’t summarize the content of the song in any meaningful way.  It doesn’t convey anything deeper than what it says on the surface, and it’s not especially interesting or

clever.  A better hook could have compensated to some extent for the generally uninspiring lyrical content, but the way it is, there’s precious little for the listener to grab onto.

No matter how charitable I try to be in discussing Tim McGraw’s new song, “One of Those Nights” simply offers nothing to get excited about.  I miss the days when I could get excited about Tim McGraw’s music, and I highly doubt that Scott Borchetta is going to be the one to bring those days back.

Grade:  C

Listen:  One of Those Nights

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Retro Single Review: Tim McGraw, "Unbroken"

2002 | Peak: #1

“Unbroken” was the fourth consecutive #1 single from Set This Circus Down, a streak unmatched by any other Tim McGraw album.

It’s easy to understand why.  With its spirited production and enthusiastic vocal, it practically radiated joy.

Sure, it’s a simple “love gone right” song, but it’s done quite well.   I guess it wasn’t his most memorable single, as I didn’t remember it much at all.   But revisiting it

for this review, I felt a nice thrill of rediscovery.  Those don’t happen too often.

Written by Holly Lamar and Annie Roboff

Grade: B+

Next: Red Ragtop

Previous: The Cowboy in Me

 

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Retro Single Review: Tim McGraw, "The Cowboy in Me"

2001 | Peak: #1

I don’t get it.

More importantly, I don’t get it and the song isn’t interesting enough to make me want to get it.

“The Cowboy in Me” might be an amoebic form of the country lifestyle anthems that have flooded the genre in the years since it was released.  It’s certainly subtler and more refined than what’s come out since, and McGraw’s hit doesn’t include the head-pounding loudness that sinks so many other “country” anthems.

But it’s like they wanted to write a song about having a short temper and being restless, and they couldn’t come up with a more interesting way to do it, so they use the cowboy archetype as a shorthand reference.   This despite the fact that you could replace “cowboy” with “Jersey Shore” and it would still work, so what’s so cowboy about it, anyway?

A

commenter made a strong case that “Grown Men Don’t Cry” was a defining moment in the suburbanization of the genre and its growing disconnect from the life of the working poor.   “The Cowboy in Me” came along well after the ampersand and the Western were dropped from Country Music, but it really does demonstrate that the genre has as much relevance to cowboys these days as a Marlboro ad.

Written by Al Anderson, Jeffrey Steele, and Craig Wiseman

Grade: B

Next: Unbroken

Previous: Angry all the Time

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Single Review: Craig Morgan, “More Trucks Than Cars”

It is not “Corn Star.”

Here is where the praise must end.

This is depressing.  Trucks!  Two-lane roads!  Country girls!  Swimmin’ holes!  County fairs!  Grits!  Gravy!  Soldiers!  Old Glory!  “Raise your hands!”  “Hell Yeah!”  “Amen!”  “Yee haw!”  “Y’all come back again!”

“The pretty waitress calls you baby” and “fellow toppin’ off your tank knows your name” are new ones, but there’s still nothing in this song that’s interesting enough to overcome the grating, repetitive checklist structure that’s been so done to death that it’s not even funny anymore.  Likewise, there’s no disguising the fact that this song amounts to nothing more than blatant, obvious pandering.  Tim McGraw did this with “Southern Voice.”  Justin Moore did this with “Small Town USA.”  Scotty McCreery is doing this with “Water Tower Town.”  And just as an aside, “Where there’s more trucks than cars” is a really stupid title hook.

I do not appreciate this, Craig Morgan.  In fact, I can’t help but feel that you’re insulting my intelligence to suggest that all I want to hear from you are reminders that trucks and small towns do, in fact, exist.  Besides that, you’re actually a pretty talented singer, so I’m somewhat puzzled as to why you seem so satisfied to make such a flat, one-dimensional caricature out of yourself.

Country music’s current identity crisis continues.  This song is a sign that it’s not going to get better anytime soon, and it hurts my heart to realize that this song actually stands a good chance of becoming a hit.

Written by Craig Morgan, Phil O’Donnell, and Craig Wiseman

Grade:  D

Listen:  More Trucks Than Cars

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iPod Check: Most Played Song by Twenty Country Artists

Since bringing back Recommend a Track proved so popular, I’m resurrecting another CU oldie but goodie: the iPod check.

I’ve only recently discovered the Most Played feature on iTunes, since it never had any relevance until iPods were large enough in memory to sync all of my music.   So going back to early 2011, I have a lengthy list of the songs I’ve played the most.

So today’s iP0d check:  List your most-played song from twenty different country artists.

You can access this info by going to your own Most Played list and adjusting the number of songs on it – I use 500 for mine – or you can just go to Music and sort by number of plays.  Or you can just pick twenty artists at random and list your most played song for each.  We’re easy here.  (This would also work in Spotify, from what I hear.)

Here’s my top twenty:

  1. Pam Tillis – Deep Down (89 plays)
  2. Keith Urban – I Told You So (81)
  3. Dixie Chicks – Long Time Gone (71)
  4. Taylor Swift – Mean (68)
  5. Trisha Yearwood – Where Are You Now (63)
  6. Patty Loveless – You Can Feel Bad (59)
  7. Emmylou Harris – Easy From Now On (55)
  8. Carrie Underwood – Undo It (50)
  9. Lori McKenna – Lorraine (50)
  10. Dwight Yoakam – Ain’t That Lonely Yet (46)
  11. Sara Evans – Rocking Horse (45)
  12. Sawyer Brown – Cafe on the Corner (45)
  13. Reba McEntire – The Fear of Being Alone (44)
  14. Shania Twain – Up! (43)
  15. Faith

    Hill – Stealing Kisses (41)

  16. Alan Jackson – So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore (40)
  17. Crystal Gayle – Why Have Your Left the One You Left Me For (39)
  18. George Strait – Meanwhile (39)
  19. Lee Ann Womack – I May Hate Myself in the Morning (39)
  20. Aaron Tippin – Whole Lotta Love on the Line (38)

I’m surprised that some of my most played artists overall, like Dolly Parton, Randy Travis, and Tim McGraw, don’t have that one big song that I play excessively.  Also, at least half of the songs above aren’t what I would call my favorite song by the given artist.  How about you?

 

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Retro Single Review: Tim McGraw, "Angry All the Time"

2001 | #1

I will append a “-” onto the grade as a means of acknowledging the fact that the Bruce Robison original is overall superior.  That said, Tim McGraw’s hit recording of “Angry All the

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Time” is an excellent record in its own right.

I’m sure there are relatively few artists who would have listened to Robison’s non-charting, self-written 1998 single and thought, ‘Hey, that sounds like a hit!’  But “Angry All the Time” was a classic instance of McGraw finding a hit in the most unlikely of places, and giving mass exposure to an achingly beautiful, yet underrated composition.

Though not quite a raw as Robison’s original recording, McGraw’s version is surprisingly light on bells and whistles.  Beginning with the sound of hushed acoustic strumming, the arrangement picks up force as the song progresses, but the focus of attention remains the story of a marriage gradually unraveling.  Varying emotions are conveyed, including frustration, desperation, and disillusionment, particularly in stinging lines such as “What I can’t live with is memories of the way you used to be.”

It all comes through in McGraw’s evocative performance, showcasing the layers of subtlety his voice had picked up in the years since his “Indian Outlaw” days, while wife Faith Hill’s plaintive background vocals add a further layer of pathos.  The couple injects an angst into the lines “God, it hurts me to think of you, for the light in your eyes was gone/ Sometimes I don’t know why this old world can’t leave well enough alone” that is heartrending.  It’s a top-notch performance by a pair of contemporary country music’s most vibrant talents.

In the late nineties and early 2000s, Tim McGraw was known as one of country music’s finest selectors of song material, as well as one of its finest interpreters of lyrics.  Great records like this are the reason for it.

Written by Bruce Robison

Grade:  A-

Next:  The Cowboy In Me

Previous:  Grown Men Don’t Cry

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Retro Single Review: Tim McGraw, “Grown Men Don’t Cry”

2001 | Peak: #1

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

Grade: A

Next: Angry all the Time

Previous: Let’s Make Love (with Faith Hill)

 

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Retro Single Review: Faith Hill & Tim McGraw, "Let's Make Love"

2000 | Peak: #6

An awkward attempt to recreate the magic of “It’s Your Love.”

Awkward in the sense that the melody doesn’t have quite the same pull, and in the sense that, well…it’s a song called Let’s Make Love,” performed in earnest by a real-life married couple. And as fantastic as Hill and McGraw sound together, it’s hard not to feel a little voyeuristic when they sigh, “I want to feel you in my soul!” It’s just hard.

Still, the record is not canada online pharmacy propecia without its – ahem – adult-contemporary charms. Really, it’s worth it just for the weirdly engrossing “Look how hot we are!” music video. But it’s the kind of thing you probably wouldn’t want to listen to/watch with anyone else in the room. Unless maybe, I guess, if they were in the room with you because, like…y’know.

Written by Marv Green, Aimee Mayo, Chris Lindsey & Bill Luther

Grade: C+

Next: Grown Men Don’t Cry

Previous: My Next Thirty Years

 

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100 Greatest Men: #45. Tim McGraw

width=”150″ height=”150″ />100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

He started out as one of the lesser-ran hat acts of the nineties boom, catapulted to fame on the strength of a novelty song. But skillful song selection and deepening commitment to artistry helped Tim McGraw emerge as one of the genre’s strongest talents.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Tim McGraw was the son of baseball legend Tug McGraw, though he didn’t know this until he was an older boy. He was an aspiring baseball player himself, and attended college on a sports scholarship. While there, he learned to play guitar and grew more interested in pursuing music as his full-time career.

McGraw was inspired by the music of Keith Whitley, and by chance, he moved to Nashville on the same day that Whitley passed away. He played the clubs around town for four years, eventually garnering the interest of Curb Records. His self-titled debut album was released in 1993 to little fanfare, so it was a big surprise the following year when his second album, Not a Moment Too Soon, spent nearly thirty weeks at #1. It was the controversial novelty hit “Indian Outlaw” that got it there, but four more hits from the same set kept it at the top.

McGraw’s sudden move to multi-platinum sales gave him access to far better material, and over the next decade, a string of hit albums would establish him as one of Nashville’s best pickers of material. In 1996, he married fellow superstar Faith Hill, and they spent six weeks at #1 with “It’s Your Love”, their award-winning duet that was only one of many hit collaborations between the two. In the late nineties, he dominated radio with several multi-week #1 singles, becoming the genre’s flagship male vocalist and one of the few to win two consecutive CMA Album of the Year awards.

His success continued into the 21st century, and while McGraw became a movie star on the side, he still kept his primary focus on the music. In 2004, “Live Like You Were Dying” became the biggest hit of his career, earning him a Grammy and spending 7 weeks at #1, his cost viagra longest-running stay on the top of the charts. After the album of the same name sold in the millions, his record sales began to cool, though disagreements with his label heated up. He still had regular hits on the radio, but for the first time, he also had several singles missing the top ten.

McGraw finished his commitment to Curb records in early 2012, and has now moved on to Big Machine records, releasing his first single for the label in the summer of 2012. He is currently on a successful stadium tour with Kenny Chesney, an artist that he influenced and mentored.

Essential Singles:

  • Indian Outlaw, 1994
  • Don’t Take the Girl, 1994
  • I Like it, I Love it, 1995
  • It’s Your Love (with Faith Hill), 1997
  • Just to See You Smile, 1998
  • Please Remember Me, 1999
  • Live Like You Were Dying, 2004

Essential Albums:

  • Not a Moment Too Soon, 1994
  • Everywhere, 1997
  • A Place in the Sun, 1999
  • Set This Circus Down, 2001
  • Live Like You Were Dying, 2004

Next: #44. Glen Campbell

Previous: #46. Dwight Yoakam

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

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100 Greatest Men: #47. Rodney Crowell

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

First as a songwriter, then as a new country superstar, and currently as an alternative country icon, Rodney Crowell has made an indelible mark on country music for nearly four decades.

Born and raised in Houston, Texas, he was already a bandleader in high school, heading up a teenage outfit called the Arbitrators.   He was only 22 when he moved to Nashville, and by 1975, he’d been discovered by Jerry Reed, who heard him doing an acoustic set.   Reed not only recorded one of his songs, but also signed him to his publishing company.

Crowell was soon a member of Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band, and she was the first to record some of his compositions that went on to be big hits for other artists, including: “I Ain’t Living Long Like This”, a #1 hit for Waylon Jennings; “‘Til I Gain Control Again”, a #1 hit for Crystal Gayle;  “Leavin’ Louisiana in the Broad Daylight”, a #1 hit for the Oak Ridge Boys; and “Ashes By Now”, a top five hit for Lee Ann Womack.

His remarkable songwriting talent led to a record deal with Warner Bros.  While a trio of albums for the label were critically acclaimed, they failed to earn him success on the radio or at retail.   But as would be the case for his entire career, other artists mined those records for hits.  Most notably, “Shame on the Moon” became a #2 pop hit for Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band.

Crowell took a break from his solo career to focus on his songwriting and production responsibilities for then-wife Rosanne Cash.   This would be yet another successful avenue for Crowell, as his work with Cash produced several #1 singles and three gold albums.  The relationship also helped set his solo career on fire.  After signing with Cash’s label Columbia, his second set for the project was previewed with a duet with Cash, “It’s Such a Small World.”

It became the first of five consecutive #1 singles from Diamonds & Dirt, a gold-selling disc that briefly made Crowell an A-list country star, as five additional Cash singles that he had produced also hit #1 over the same time period.   He received a Grammy award for Best Country Song for “After All This Time.”   Two foll0w-up albums for Columbia also produced a handful of hits, with his final mainstream success being the pop crossover hit, “What Kind of Love.”

In the nineties, Crowell recorded two albums for MCA which were well-reviewed, but most notable for the second set including “Please Remember Me.”  It stalled as a single when Crowell released it, but  later that decade, Tim McGraw’s cover topped the charts for five weeks and earned Crowell a slew of award nominations.

The new century brought a reinvention on Crowell’s part, as he repositioned himself as an Americana artist with remarkable success.   A trio of albums earned rave reviews, as did his collaboration with old friends like Vince Gill on The Notorious Cherry Bombs, which earned a handful of Grammy nominations and included Crowell’s “Making Memories of Us.”  Once again, a current artist discovered it, and Keith Urban took it to #1 for several weeks.

Inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003, Crowell continues to build on his legacy as a singer, songwriter, and producer.  Most recently, Crowell produced Chely Wright’s confessional Lifted off the Ground and co-wrote an album with friend Mary Karr which features their songs recorded by several artists, including Crowell himself. 

Essential Singles:

  • I Ain’t Living Long Like This (Waylon Jennings), 1980
  • ‘Til I Gain Control Again (Crystal Gayle), 1982
  • Shame on the Moon (Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band), 1982
  • It’s Such a Small World (with Rosanne Cash), 1988
  • I Couldn’t Leave You if I Tried, 1988
  • After All This Time, 1989
  • What Kind of Love, 1992
  • Please Remember Me (Tim McGraw), 1999
  • Making Memories of Us (Keith Urban), 2005

Essential Albums:

  • Ain’t Living Long Like This, 1978
  • Diamonds & Dirt, 1988
  • The Houston Kid, 2001
  • Fate’s Right Hand, 2002
  • The Outsider, 2005

Next: #46. Dwight Yoakam

Previous: #48. Kris Kristofferson

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

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