Tim McGraw, “Kristofferson”

By now, I should know better than to allow a title that name drops intrigue me, because much more often than not, the song simply leaves me disappointed and annoyed that the name was simply dropped as a ploy to propel a song. Once again, Tim McGraw’s “Kristofferson” follows the same deceptive format.

The song is about a man who does something to drive his woman away. In an effort to convince her to come back to him, he’s going “to tell {her} how {he} feel, straight up genuine and real/Open a bottle of ninety proof and write a song for {her} like Kristofferson would do.” Except, I’m not so sure that’s how the man who wrote “Bobby McGee”, “Sunday Morning Coming Down” and “Why Me, Lord?” necessarily writes all of his songs. Likewise, why use Kristofferson in this scenario? Why not any number of other songwriters?

Not only does this song shamelessly drop the name of one of music’s most prolific songwriters, it is one of the weakest songs on McGraw’s Let It Go album. The song lacks an interesting melody and the lyrics certainly aren’t compelling. It works well enough as album filler, but it’s a surprising choice for a radio single.

Written by Reed Nielsen and Anthony Smith

Grade: C

Listen: Kristofferson

Buy: Kristofferson


  1. I really like this song. It’s actually one of my favorites on the album, right behind I’m Workin’. I’m not a big fan of name dropping songs, like Jason Aldean’s Johnny Cash, which was a low point for him, but this song takes it to the next level and earns the name drop.

  2. I suppose it earns the name drop as far as it’s traditional. I don’t think it’s a fitting “tribute” though. So, calling the song “Kristofferson” seems to be deceptive, since it doesn’t have really anything to do with him, except lifting his name and applying what those songwriters must imagine Kristofferson does when he writes a song.

  3. I think it is a tribute because in the song he wishes he could get his feelings across in a song as well as Kristofferson, which to me seems like the ultimate tribute to a songwriter.

  4. I really like this song one of the best on the CD , as for the name dropping I think it’s being used in the as how he wishes he could write a song as good as Kristofferson would or could. Tim has always said how big of fan he is of Kristofferson so knowing he’s a fan of the man it doesn’t bother me..

  5. This has been a tricky album to release singles from. I didn’t get “Last Dollar” as the lead-off, and then there was the fiasco of the excellent “I Need You” being overshadowed by “If You’re Reading This.” I don’t think either of those last two got the exposure they deserved. The Rabbitt cover couldn’t crack the top ten, and now I think that “Kristofferson” will get a lot of quizzical reactions.

    I agree with Leeann that this works better as an album cut. I would’ve preferred “I’m Workin'” followed by “Between the River and Me.”

  6. Thanks, Tim McGraw, for honoring a such great man, a great artist, and a great American. Too bad he can’t spell better… ;-)

    This song has been a lot of fun with friends and co-workers. Can’t wait for more of his clever and novel songs being released.


  7. I listen to Country stations all of the time in Philly however it was just the other afternoon that I heard this Tim McGraw song “Kristopherson” and man I thought it wonderful. So very very classical type country, not only Tim’s singing but the background instruments = radio has so lacked REAL Country music (aside from Alan Jackson , some of Toby Keith & the Texas swing sound of George Strait) for so many years. I thought that this Tim song brand new and that I’d hear it often on the radio now see that the album was last year release. Guess I’ll have to purchase the CD to further enjoy this song. Thank you Tim for something traditional COUNTRY at last.
    Peace to all

  8. Carol, you definitely should buy the album, because it’s a worthy album to own. However, if you’re looking for more traditional sounding music from Tim, you likely won’t find it on “Let It Go.” Also, this song is rather new as a radio single, so you’ll probably hear it relatively often on your local radio station for awhile. Thanks for stopping by!

  9. This is finally the ultimate in country love songs in a long time. We’ve been hearing it everyday in Slidell. Loved it the first time and can’t get enough. We need more artists to bring country back. I like Tim’s music anyway, but this is the bomb.

  10. I like this song. I think Kristofferson’s name is used by the writers because most people can relate to his unique name as a songwriter more so than they would someone else.

    Unfortunately it doesn’t look like it is going to get much of a chance on radio. It seems with every review of the singles released to date, the author, and the responses they get, all pick a different song “that should have released” instead of the current one. (The exception being “If You’re Reading This”, which is a story in itself.)

    So, as Kevin said, this album seems to be tough one to release singles off of. But, as Leeann said, it is a good album overall. There is just a lot of variety on it, which in my book makes it all the better!

  11. When I write reviews, I know that my word isn’t gospel. Therefore, it’s fun to read people’s comments about the reviews that I write. I’ve even read comments that have helped me to rethink my position of songs. I love the comments/dialogue.

    On this thread, there are plenty of people who really disagree with my assessment, including one person whose comment we had to delete do to vulgar language (misdirected passion?).

    So, this song’s been on my mind lately. Again, I think this song is nice and traditional. However, while I understand that Kristofferson probably had a few drinks when writing songs, I don’t believe that’s what defines his songwriting. Likewise, I’m sure many songwriters have had a few drinks when writing songs, so what singles Kristofferson out for this song? Why not any number of other songwriters, except to drop the name of a revered figure? If someone is going to name drop, I want a solid connection to be made between the song and the person whose name is dropped, not a connection where any name could serve as a substitution. For instance, instead of Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Harlen Howard, Bill Anderson, etc. could take Kristofferson’s place in this song. Moreover, though excellent songwriters in their own rights, none of those songwriters could actually take Kristofferson’s place in the history of country music. Therefore, this is why I don’t think this song is a fitting tribute to Kristofferson. I guess I want a more “straight up, genuine and real” tribute if a song title is going to carry someone’s name.

  12. ^ “However, while I understand that Kristofferson probably had a few drinks when writing songs, I don’t believe that’s what defines his songwriting.”

    I don’t either.

    The last three lines are:

    I’m gon’ drink this bottle of 90 proof
    To sing a song for you
    Like Kristofferson would do

    I guess I interpret it differently than you do. I think he is the one opening (and drinking) the bottle, not Kristofferson.

    While you don’t think it is a fitting tribute to Kristofferson, I think his heart is in the right place, so it does not bother me. Each to their own.

  13. Yes, I agree that the guy in the song is the one who is opening the bottle. However, he’s comparing that act to what Kristofferson would do to write a song.

  14. Opinions are just like, well you know! This song to me is a CLASSIC waiting to happen. I was about to give up on Tim McGraw. Thank God for this song! I don’t think the writers of this song were writing it from thier point of view. It’s from the point of view of a man that thinks he just lost his woman and to him Krisofferson is one of the most famous songwriters in the whole so he thinks of him. The man in the song is assuming that Krisofferson would do it that way. The writers on the song are probabaly friends of Kris’s, duh! I think this song is an AWESOME tribute and a great country music song! Props to TIM McGRAW for putting out what real country music fans want to hear!!!!! If this song doesn’t go #1 there ain’t a cow in Texas!

  15. When I worked for my college newspaper, I took a journalism class. My professor taught us that the title of our articles should give the readers an accurate idea of what the article was going to be about. Now, I’m not claiming to be a journalist by any stretch of the imagination (my sister is the real journalist in my family), but I think I wouldn’t mind the premise of this song if the title of it wasn’t “Kristofferson.” I probably wouldn’t mind the Kristofferson comparison by the song’s character if they had been able to name the song something else rather than trying to grab potential listeners by calling it “Kristofferson” when the song really isn’t about Kristofferson in the end. So, a more honest title would have been “Like Kristofferson Would Do.” Then I would know that the song is not, in fact, about Kristofferson as the current title of “Kristofferson” suggests. Instead, I would know that the intention of the song was to make a comparison to Kristofferson, which is what this song is actually doing.

  16. Tammy Cassidy says it all – this is the kind of music real country fans want to hear. This is a classic – it is awesome – one of tim’s best

  17. I love this song by TIm McGraw. Are’nt most love songs gone wrong tell of the same message? I love Tim’s country sexy tone. The song is picking up on Billboard chart- we’ll have to see.

  18. leann you are focusing way too much on the fact that you feel kristofferson wouldnt sit down to drink and write a song. That isnt the point. Tim was just dedicating a song to someone he admires and draws inspiration from and that is where you get the title. maybe you should look at the rest of the song and not just the drinking part because its all about how tim feels what kristofferson put into his songwriting. This a great song. great rythm and lyrics. love it.

  19. Don’t really care for Tim McGraw. I think he’s put out some of the worst crap that is passed off as country that has come out in the last 10 years. But good songs are good songs. Think about this…if George Strait recorded this and called it “Write a song for you”, would you like the song or not. Don’t understand the struggle with the title.

  20. Pat, I think I can safely answer “no” to your question. When it comes right down to it, I guess I just don’t like this song too much. It’s boring and the lyrics don’t make it any better for me. It’s a song I would really completely overlook if it wasn’t for the title that is meant to pander/name drop that makes me pay attention to it at all.

  21. fair enuff! I think opinions will break down on this song that people who like traditional country with a simple but strong message will like this effort (wish McGraw had half the emotion in his other songs he puts into the chorus of this), and those who don’t like that style will not be happy with this.

  22. Actually, Pat, I’m surprised that I don’t like this song more. I like today’s country, but I usually lean toward the traditional more. In fact, people have accused me of being a traditionalist in the past. I don’t think this song is a bad song; it’s just that it doesn’t inspire me much. I agree that Tim does sound great though.

  23. Kristofferson is my new favorite song! I don’t understant all the hoopla about the name dropping. I love the song just for the song, let the rest go. Are you guys getting paid to review? Just listen to the song and enjoy and move on for goodness sakes!

  24. I couldn’t disagree more. I love the song. I’m younger so I do not know much about Kristofferson. But after listening to the song makes me think he would be a wonderfully talented romantic man that had a way with words. I have to say this song makes Kristofferson out to be “the MAN”. I love the song!!! And now I love me some Kristofferson!

  25. This is my favorite song right now. I just love the beat. Its pure country for sure. Also great drinking music. When I first heard it on the radio, I knew for sure that it would climb the charts to a popular hit. We need to get back to more great country music. If my past husband was still living this would be one of those hits that he’d play over and over!!! Great work Tim!

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