“Funny the things you thought you’d never miss,” Tim McGraw sings on his simple, nostalgic new single, “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s.”
He’s talking about all the little details of family life that can seem irrelevant, or even irritating, like dad watching a game of the tube with a cigarette in one hand and whiskey in the other. But I couldn’t help thinking of McGraw himself, an artist that I never thought I’d miss because I didn’t expect him to go away.
“Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” is an excellently written song, and McGraw delivers it in his straightforward way that doesn’t get in the way of the song. We don’t get both of those much anymore from McGraw. Getting even one has been cause for celebration recently.
Harmonizing with Faith Hill, they still sound like a married couple. But a much older one, not newly in love like they were on their starry-eyed early collaborations. They sound so natural together, and the production makes it sound like the entire song was surreptitiously recorded during a back porch guitar pull.
For the first time, the both of them seem like they’re less interested in regaining the throne of mainstream country music and are choosing instead to embrace being elder statesmen of country music. That’s what we really need from them. I hope this is their new way forward.
Written by Tom Douglas, Jaren Johnston, and Jeffrey Steele
Have we reached the point yet where a solid George Strait single should bring on waves of deep gratitude?
He’s been so good for so long that it’s easy to take him for granted. Maybe it’s radio’s sudden unwillingness to play him in heavy rotation, or the bittersweet sadness brought on by his farewell tour. But I’ve never been more aware that the music will eventually stop coming from him.
“I Got a Car” isn’t anything revolutionary or Single of the Year worthy. It’s just a good song elevated by a master storyteller who can make the most pedestrian conversation sound interesting. There’s so much back story in his voice, still strong but weathered by time, that adds layers of meaning here. This is a potential romance between two older people who are trying to start over again, and stumble upon a chance at real love and starting a family.
It wouldn’t sound like that if even the best of the new singers were singing it. Not because they aren’t good. They just haven’t lived enough yet. Maybe twenty years from now, somebody else will write about how much more interesting a song sounds because they’re singing it instead of whoever the new kid on the block is then.
I hope we’ll get a few more good ones from this guy before he’s gone.