It’s the best of times, and the worst of times in country music. While pop artists and country artists singing pop are infiltrating the genre like never before and finding traction with terrible radio singles, Chris Stapleton remains one of the biggest artists in country with no radio play, and outlier radio singles continue to surprise.
Tim McGraw may seem like an unlikely radio hero for those hoping for country to turn a page after the Bro-Country era, but he continues to be one of the few artists with the guts to release meaningful songs as singles, and one of the few that fat cat radio programmers will actually give a chance to. Releasing the song “Humble and Kind” as the second single from his current album Damn Country Music was bold stroke in itself. Most likely Tim and his label were hoping it would end up in the Top 10, and keep Tim on radio’s radar for a little while longer. But this week it notched #1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, and that’s not the only positive distinction for the song.
Written solely by female songwriter Lori McKenna, “Humble and Kind” becomes the first #1 country song written by one person in more than four years. In this era when everything is written by a committee of three or more, and the expressions of female artists are generally stifled, this is quite the feat. The last person to write a song by themselves and have it end up at #1 was another female, Taylor Swift with her song “Ours.” Another illustration of just how rare the feat is, out of the entire 60-song Country Airplay chart this week, “Humble and Kind” is the only current single written by one person.
It also comes at an opportune time for Lori McKenna. She is getting ready to release a new album The Bird & The Rifle via Thirty Tigers on July 29th. Her own version of “Humble and Kind” is included on the track list.