Every #1 Single of the Nineties: Tim McGraw, “Not a Moment Too Soon”

“Not a Moment Too Soon”

Tim McGraw

Written by Joe Barnhill and Wayne Perry

Billboard

#1 (2 weeks)

January 14 – January 21, 1995

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

January 6, 1995

Tim McGraw earns the first No. 1 single of 1995 as we enter the second half of the decade.

The Road to No. 1

Tim McGraw’s wildly popular sophomore album was matched by strong radio success.  After “Don’t Take the Girl” became his first No. 1 single, “Down On the Farm” went top five.  For the fourth release from the album, Curb chose the title track.

The No. 1

This meandering, mediocre ballad made it to No. 1 on pure McGraw momentum.

Not a Moment Too Soon was an album heavy on hooks and light on quality material.  McGraw simply didn’t have the standing to demand top drawer songs from the Nashville songwriting community yet, and it shows here.

He does his best to sell it, but his skills as an interpreter would also grow as his material got stronger with time.

This is like listening to a Reba McEntire record from the Mercury years.  You know you’re listening to an eventual Country Music Hall of Famer, but they haven’t started making the music that’ll get them there yet.

The Road From No. 1

“Refried Dreams” was the final single from Not a Moment Too Soon, and it went top five.  McGraw then released the lead single from his third album, which would be the first of many long-running No. 1 singles for McGraw.  We’ll cover it later in 1995.

“Not a Moment Too Soon” gets a C-.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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10 Comments

  1. This song is emblematic of him as an artist for me, utter mediocrity.

    I even struggle with promoting him as a great interpreter of stronger material because his record of choosing material is so spotty. For every “Please Remember Me” he has a “Truck Yeah,” for every “Just to See You Smile” there is a “Way Down.”

    McGraw’s musical momentum never got going enough for him to matter to me as an artist of any interest. That being said, I am well aware of what he has meant to the genre and his greater significance to the industry.

    Critics, fans, and historians can tell me everything about McGraw except why.

    1
    • Great points Peter, Tim’s peaks and troughs made it hard to really get behind him. He had some excellent songs but also some downright terrible ones. Every time I hear this song I am neither repulsed nor excited. It’s so “meh”.

      • I personally consider i995-2001 (I’d say from “Can’t Be Really Gone” up to around “Angry All The Time”) to be McGraw’s peak years in quality. Before and after that, he’s pretty hit or miss or just “meh,” imo (though, I still stand by liking his debut album).

        1
        • I love “Can’t Be Really Gone” (spoiler alert.) For me, peak McGraw was Everywhere through Live Like You Were Dying. Those are my two favorite McGraw albums, and I like quite a bit of the music in between, especially quite a few of his singles from that era. I wish they’d put out “Why We Said Goodbye” as a single. I feel like Set This Circus Down didn’t get the run at radio that the other albums enjoyed, even though all four singles went No. 1.

          • I also love Can’ t Be Really Gone – solely written by one of my favorite singer songwriters Gary Burr. The only McGraw studio album i have is Live Like You Were Dying. Blank Sheet of Paper, written by Don Schlitz & the Warren Brothers, was one of the best songs on that album but never released as a single.

  2. I will try to listen to McGraw’s output with new ears, listening for that well-delivered excellent material. I know I was almost universally critical and dismissive of McGraw in my own listening past, and that negative response to McGraw admittedly continues right into 2022 for me.

    I can’t ignore his superstardom and I certainly don’t deny it. I just have never understood it or enjoyed the majority of his output, even during his commercial peak.

    I want to read about what I was missing then in the comments section of this feature now as we revisit his late nineties music in 2022. I want to be challenged to listen again, to hear what I may have been deaf to on principle in the moment. It takes work for artists to get out of the hole I throw them in when I don’t like them, and McGraw dug a doozie with “Indian Outlaw.”

    Step one will be getting over my own taste and listening to these early hits and trying to hear what will eventually make McGraw a future Hall of Famer.

    2
    • It’s also completely okay to just not like him. Brad Paisley has won countless industry awards, had a long run of radio hits, received plenty of critical acclaim, and is an obvious future Country Music Hall of Famer. I like maybe two songs of his, and I’d like them more if someone else was singing them. There isn’t anything anybody could write about him that would make me start liking his music. I don’t like his voice or his songwriting. But I think he belongs in the Hall of Fame!

  3. This was actually another one of the country songs I used to hear them play at the AMC theaters as part of the pre-movie playlist earlier in 1995, just shortly before I really got back into country. I always really enjoyed hearing it back then, and that was when I was starting to become familiar with Tim McGraw. I remember thinking he was sort of similar to Tracy Lawrence back then, if mostly for his image than his sound.

    This is also the only single from Not A Moment Too Soon that I truly like, though it’s still not one of his strongest, overall. I agree, especially, with his skills as an interpreter not being quite there, yet. However, I’ve always really liked the production of this one. I especially like the drawn out electric guitar solo at the end, along with the thundering drums and the sound of the steel. The extended electric guitar ending reminds me of how Rhett Akins ended a lot of his songs in the mid 90’s.

    Okay, I’ll admit that “Refried Dreams” is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine, and I also like that one more than the first three singles. It especially brings back funny memories of when my dad would always sing it as “living on refried BEANS” lol. I believe that was the then current McGraw single when I first started listening to country radio regularly again.

    1
  4. Kevin, Other than listening to the music itself, reading what authors, fans, journalists, historians, and critics have to say about an artist, style, or song has influenced me as much as anything. I implicitly believe in the power of well written words to make me reconsider my own biases and prejudices about music.

    It should come as no surprise then, I have always identified with what music historian Elijah Wald said in his book “How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ‘N’ Roll: An Alterative History of American Popular Music.” In it he wrote,”… music criticism demands studious, analytic listening, and the people who listen that way tend to value music that rewards careful attention and analysis…”

    This is to no way imply you don’t do these things when you listen to music because obviously you do; I am just advertising what I nerd I am when I listen to – and read about – music.

    I am sharing that I can be swayed by a silver tongued – or quilled – devil.

    So write on!

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