Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: Tim McGraw, “Please Remember Me”

“Please Remember Me”

Tim McGraw

Written by Rodney Crowell and Will Jennings

Billboard

#1 (5 weeks)

May 15 – June 12, 1999

Radio & Records

#1 (3 weeks)

May 21 – June 4, 1999

Tim McGraw returns with one of the best singles of his entire career.

The Road to No. 1

After six consecutive No. 1 singles, including the first five releases from Everywhere, Tim McGraw went top five with “For a Little While.”  He then previewed his second consecutive CMA Album of the Year, A Place in the Sun, with a stunning cover of a Rodney Crowell single from earlier in the decade.

The No. 1

“Please Remember Me” was already a gem when its writer Rodney Crowell released it, and Linda Ronstadt & Aaron Neville did a beautiful cover of it as well.

It seemed like one of those songs that would become well known in the burgeoning Americana circles but never get mainstream attention.  Then Tim McGraw recorded it at the height of his career and released it as the lead single from his highly anticipated new album.

McGraw is the perfect singer for this song, which is essentially a unique act of selflessness by a selfish person.  McGraw’s innate sincerity gives the act credibility, as his audible anguish is amplified by a wailing harmony vocal by the inimitable Patty Loveless. The verses are restrained, but the chorus absolutely soars, making an anthem out of a devastating heartbreak.

It’s not only one of McGraw’s best singles, but one of the best by any artist from the entire decade.  That it can’t explicitly claim the mantle for McGraw’s all-time best single is a reflection of how many classics this man has recorded.

The Road From No. 1

“Please Remember Me” was a huge hit and got a lot of award attention later in the year, but the second single from A Place in the Sun has had the longest shelf life as a recurrent. We’ll cover it later in the year.

“Please Remember Me” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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Next: George Strait, “Write This Down”

6 Comments

  1. I was such a massive fan of Rodney Crowell’s original version of his own composition from his 1995 Tony Brown produced “Jewel of the South” album that I was slow to warm to McGraw’s cover. At the time, I unfairly dismissed the strength of McGraw’s recent run of seminal hits because I had established I hated his singing based upon his earliest output. In my mind, he was an unredeemable artist.

    This feature has pointed out how unfair that position was, and just how pig-headed I can be as a listener.

    McGraw is in control of his vocals here in ways I couldn’t previously imagine him being. This is a worthy and stunning performance.

    • In your defense, the improvement from McGraw’s breakthrough album to Everywhere was far greater than most artists ever develop at all, let alone in such a short time frame. Usually if they aren’t very good at the beginning, they don’t get much better. McGraw is an exception to a pretty reliable rule.

  2. If you’re going to unleash the string section, do it right. This is a perfect example of doing it right. Man, late 90s Tim McGraw was really, really good.

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