Word placement is a pretty big deal, right? There’s a big difference between the assistant CEO, and the CEO’s assistant. If I was going to say what I think Tim McGraw is trying to say, I probably would have worded it “Country Damn Music” instead of “Damn Country Music.” Putting “damn” in front feels more like a verb, like you’re “damning” country music, which I would guess is not on Tim McGraw’s agenda. So let’s just assume McGraw is just using “damn” for emphasis. Like “this is actual country music, and not that sissified crap they’re calling country music today.” Okay then Tim, you have me intrigued.
McGraw has a history of curious album titles. Sundown Heaven Town, anyone? You don’t stick that “heaven” in between, and you have the NAACP swarming your ass faster than a Confederate flag flying at a statehouse. I’m still a little surprised that title made it past the management at Big Machine Records, and that it still didn’t draw McGraw some unintended ire. But hey, I guess there’s bigger fish to fry these days.
Okay so Tim McGraw is declaring his next record is Damn Country Music. Well let’s just wait and see. I will say that Sundown Heaven Town, the terrible lead single “Lookin’ For That Girl” notwithstanding, was one of the surprisingly okay albums of the mainstream in 2014. That’s not an endorsement, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Tim McGraw, now 48-years-old, becomes one the of the bulwarks of country music in the mainstream moving forward—to keep at least some level of decency present in the upper tiers of the industry. I still probably won’t be listening, but it’s going to take a certain level of pragmatism to save country music.
McGraw’s recent singles “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” and “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools”? Hey, not that bad, especially compared to their peers, and they fared pretty well on the radio too. The first single from Damn Country Music called “Top of the World”? Eh, a little nondescript, the chorus feels pretty contrived, and I certainly wouldn’t call it “Damn Country Music” if I was looking for a description. But every lead single these days you can pretty much count on being the worst song of an album.
Give credit to Scott Borchetta (Big Machine CEO) for playing both sides of the market. On one side you have Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, and the (all new Yellow!) The Band Perry. Then on the other side, he’s releasing Maddie & Tae, The Mavericks, and allowing Tim McGraw to release a record called Damn Country Music. You either have to give him credit for playing both sides and profiteering off of pitting them against each other, or for recognizing holes in the market, and how there’s a huge one where music of substance in country used to be.
But let’s wait to actually hear the music on November 6th before we start high fiving each other. In the end, it’s just a cover.