Single Review: Tim McGraw, “Damn Country Music”

“Damn Country Music”
Tim McGraw

Written by Jessi Alexander, Cary Barlowe, and Josh Thompson

“Damn Country Music” comes damn close to being a damn good song about chasing the country music dream.

There are some excellent details sprinkled throughout, and the arrangement is pure country. Okay, not pure country, but country enough, at least in that seventies AM radio kind of way.

Where it falls short, unfortunately, is the vocal. McGraw might actually be singing it fine, but it’s hard to tell, given that his performance sounds like it was autotuned to within half an inch of its life.

Ultimately, that is what keeps it from being a top of the line effort. If you’re going to sing about how you’ve given up everything in your life to chase a hopeless dream, you’ve got to communicate one of two things.

A deep hunger and fearless determination, which both pulsate throughout classics such as “Wrong Side of Memphis” and “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow.”

Or a sense of hopelessness and failure, like you can hear on “Detroit City” and “Heartbreak Town.”

“Damn Country Music” is written as if it’s an example of the latter two, but it needed an unfiltered, raw vocal from McGraw to fully convey its intent.

Because we didn’t get that, the resulting record is good – quite good, even – but not great.

Damn studio trickery.

Grade: B



  1. It’s soooooooooo nice to hear Tim McGraw not trying to sing songs like he’s 21 anymore and have a more mature sound. It’s also nice to hear him get back to what made him an interesting artist in the first place, good, wholesome country music.

  2. I agree, it’s a good song but his vocal needs more of that raw weariness that made “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” more believable than it had any right to be.

  3. You ‘re quite right – auto-tune tends to sanitize vocals of any real grit or emotion. Tim is not a great vocalist, but he is a very good one and he doesn’t need to be insulted by being auto-tuned. Whoever produced this should go back and record a real live vocal, one that would invest the song with a sense of reality

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