Tim McGraw: Songs That Should’ve Been Singles
The process of choosing a single for radio is often as arduous a task as writing the song. Each month, Sounds Like Nashville will feature a different artist and explore songs from his or her catalogue that we wish made it to radio. Make no mistake, this is no critique of the artist or label, it’s simply a list of songs we love so much that we think deserve to be in the spotlight. This month, we take a closer listen to Tim McGraw’s back catalogue and find eight gems that warrant airplay.
“It Doesn’t Get Any Countrier Than That” – from Not a Moment Too Soon
This hilarious barn burner has Tim McGraw telling his mama that he’s found the perfect country girl, albeit tongue and cheek. “I found somebody and I think she’s gonna pass the test,” he croons. “She likes to go skinny dipping in the heat of the day and late at night she wants to roll in the hay / She cranks my tractor with just one kiss / Mama it doesn’t get any countrier than this.” The bluesy country jam was written by Jerry Vandiver and Randy Archer and features driving guitar parts and plenty of fiddle and banjo that begs to be danced to. We’re betting McGraw’s mom wasn’t too much of a fan since he never released this one as a single.
“Somebody Must Be Prayin’ For Me” – from A Place In The Sun
This sweet story song tells the tale of a girl leaving Oklahoma for California to chase her dream of a career in Hollywood. En route to the Golden State her car starts smoking and luckily, she finds an auto shop at the bottom of the hill. The unexpected car trouble has her falling for a young mechanic who later becomes her husband. “Ain’t it funny how you always find just what you need / Somebody must be prayin’ for me,” McGraw sings.
“Put Your Lovin’ On Me” – from Let It Go
McGraw has a knack for love ballads and “Put Your Lovin’ On Me” is just one example. Written by Nashville hit makers Hillary Lindsey and Luke Laird, “Put Your Lovin’ On Me” has McGraw begging a lover to help him forget the outside world. After a difficult day he reasons, “you might not know me good but you know me good enough to make me okay,” he sings, later begging, “just close your eyes and put your lovin’ on me.” With soaring guitar parts and pounding percussion, the instrumentals leaves as big a mark as McGraw’s singing.
“Between the River and Me” – from Let It Go
A haunting murder ballad about a teen’s abusive stepfather, on “Between the River and Me” McGraw sings of how the man became violent shortly after his mother wed him. “Didn’t take long ‘fore his drinking ways started showing up on mama’s face / One violent night hiding under my bed, swore that he wouldn’t see another sunset,” he sings on the first verse. The gritty guitar distortion and accompanying percussion only accentuates the murder that is about to happen. As McGraw narrates, the teen follows his stepdad down to the river and pulls out his knife, adding, “I knew one of us wouldn’t walk away.” A striking song that leaves a lasting mark on the listener, it likely would have done the same if heard on radio.
“I Will Not Fall Down” – from Emotional Traffic
Featured on his 2012 album Emotional Traffic, McGraw co-wrote “I Will Not Fall Down” with Martina McBride and Brad and Brett Warren. A triumphant song about how the music industry often tries to push out older artists, McGraw asserts, “I will not fall down without getting up.” The singer is in the best shape of his life and with his current Soul2Soul World Tour he can rest assured that no one wants to see him “go out quietly” as he sings on the track.
“Die By My Own Hand” – from Emotional Traffic
The life of a musician is never easy and McGraw sings nostalgically on “Die By My Own Hand” about a girl who runs away from him because he’s a music man. “I guess I really should have seen it coming / I’ll always die by my own hand,” he sings softly. Written by David Tolliver and Chad Warrix of Halfway to Hazard with Rivers Rutherford, “Die By My Own Hand” is a vulnerable ballad that showcases McGraw’s ability to pick songs that leave a lasting mark on the listener.
“Nashville Without You” – from Two Lanes of Freedom
This sweet song details how Nashville wouldn’t be the same without his girl there. Listing all the wonderful things that Music City has to offer, including some of country music’s biggest hits written there, McGraw sings of how Nashville would lose all its magic without his lovely lady residing in the town. “There’d be no honky tonks with whiskey rounds / No dreamers chasing dreams down / No tourists taking in the sights / No Stetsons under Broadway lights / No pickers playing for pocket change / No rhinestone boots on an old church stage,” he notes.
“Mexicoma” – from Two Lanes of Freedom
It’s hard to believe that “Mexicoma” never became a single for McGraw because it is such a staple in his live show. An energetic number that showcases his fun side and a great breakup song to boot — McGraw sings of how he’s drowning his sorrows somewhere in Mexico with some top shelf Don Julio tequila as a remedy. The lively piano, accordion and horn section make this a surefire hit that would have surely soothed plenty of breakups if played on radio.