A Country Music Conversation, Day 18: “Past the Point of Rescue” to “Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way”

A Country Music Conversation: Introduction and Index

Previous Entry: Day 17: “9 to 5” to “Now I Know”

Day 18 features tracks from Hal Ketchum, Olivia Newton-John, Tim McGraw, The Civil Wars, and LeAnn Rimes.

“Past the Point of Rescue”
Hal Ketchum

Written by Mick Hanly

There were some artists that were so cool and original that their success on country radio still seemed like a happy accident, even in an era when quality was high all around.  Hal Ketchum was among the last wave of intelligent singer-songwriters to have mainstream country success, and like kindred spirits Rosanne Cash and Mary Chapin Carpenter, he knew how to find great songs to cover, too.

Other Favorites: “Small Town Saturday Night,” “Someplace Far Away (Careful What You’re Dreamin’),” “In Front of the Alamo”

“Please Mr. Please”
Olivia Newton-John

Written by John Rostill and Bruce Welch

This was one of the first country records that I ever heard, and while I still prefer her post-Grease pop hits to her country material, there are a lot of gems from her early years that still hold up today. This one is pretty much perfect, as far as I’m concerned.

Other Favorites: “Let Me Be There,” “Come On Over,” “Banks of the Ohio”

“Please Remember Me”
Tim McGraw

Written by Rodney Crowell and Will Jennings

Tim McGraw’s best moments have often come from his talent for turning previously recorded songs into hits. Rodney Crowell released “Please Remember Me” to little fanfare, but Tim McGraw’s soaring version, aided by harmonies by Patty Loveless, was an instant classic.

Other Favorites: “Red Ragtop,” “Shotgun Rider,” “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” (with Faith Hill)

“Poison & Wine”
The Civil Wars

Written by Chris Lindsey, John Paul White, and Joy Williams

I still remember the first time I heard the Civil Wars, in the form of a live EP, before they blew up big. This was the song that made my jaw drop. The harmonies are heavenly, but the lyrics cut you until you bleed.

Other Favorites: “Falling,” “20 Years,” “The One That Got Away”

“Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way”
LeAnn Rimes

Written by John Kennedy and Tami Kidd

LeAnn Rimes makes the best case for the connection between age and artistic maturity that I can think of. Her work before This Woman was often entertaining, but her work from that album on has been consistently excellent, substantive and, at times, absolutely stunning. This track marked the only time where country radio truly embraced her substantive work. They’ve been missing out ever since.

Other Favorites: “Borrowed,” “What Have I Done,” “What I Cannot Change”

Up Next: Day 19: “Quittin’ Time” to “Seven Year Ache


  1. My most played McGraw track is also “Please Remember Me” (followed by Angry All the Time, Red Ragtop, Diamond Rings & Old Barstools, Grown Men Don’t Cry and Watch the Wind Blow By).

    For LeAnn Rimes it’s “What I Cannot Change”.

    I like a fair number of Ketchum’s songs, but I’m not sure if I have a favorite. Maybe “I Know Where Love Lives”?

  2. Tim McGraw – Please Remember Me is my favorite by him. Also My Best Friend, Everywhere, For A Little While, Just To See You Smile, Something Like That, and Angry All The Time

    Olivia- I Honestly Love You, Have You Ever Been Mellow, If You Love Me Let Me Know, and Please Mr Please.

  3. some Hal Ketchum favorites (writers in parenthesis):
    In Front of the Alamo – with Leann Rimes (Gary Burr)
    Daddy’s Oldsmobile (David Mallett & Hal Ketchum) album track from Sure Love
    I Miss My Mary (Hal Ketchum) album track from Past the Point of Rescue
    She’s Still in Dallas – Hal (Hal Ketchum) album track from Lucky Man
    Stay Forever – Hal (Benmont Tench & Hal Ketchum)
    Softer Than a Whisper – (Austin Cunningam & Pat Alger) album track from Sure Love
    Small Town Saturday Night (Pat Alger & Hank DeVito)

    some McGraw favorites: Live Like You Were Dying, If You’re Reading This, Blank Sheet of Paper, Can’t Be Really Gone, My Next Thirty Years

    Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way is my favorite LeAnn Rimes song. Others: On the Side of Angels, What I Cannot Change

    Olivia Newton-John – Please Mr. Please, Hopelessly Devoted to You, Physical

  4. What country radio did to Leann Rimes and in ignoring her glorious music is a shame!

    “Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way”, “What I Cannot Change” and “What Have I Done” are classics in sound.

    If there is one thing I love in Leann Rimes is that she has evolved so much since the 90s and if she was still in the mainstream she’d make a lot of the singers look like chumps

  5. Re. Hal Ketchum–I always did like “Past The Point Of Rescue”, because it was really different from anything else being played on the radio at its time (and still is now).

    With respect to Olivia Newton-John: I know that her presence (and that of John Denver as well) on the country charts in 1975 with songs like “Please Mister Please” remains a sore spot with a lot of hardcore traditionalists, but I hardly think either she or Denver did anything as damaging to country music as what the Bromeisters have been doing the last three or four years.

    That said, here are my other ONJ picks: “Don’t Stop Believing” (not the overplayed Journey song); “Deeper Than The Night”; “Magic”; “Xanadu”.

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