Chuck Dauphin's Ten Best: Ten Great Album Tracks From Tim McGraw's First 20 Years
By: Chuck Dauphin
Tuesday, Tim McGraw ushers in a new era of his recording career with the release of his Big Machine debut Two Lanes Of Freedom. Though his two-decade run with Curb came to a very contentious end, there were many great moments on record for the singer during his time on the label. And, not all of them were hit singles. Tim and producer Byron Gallimore (who co-produced Tim’s new album as well!) have always maintained a high level of excellence in picking material. Here’s ten of McGraw’s best album cuts over the years, in chronlogical order.
1994 - “Give It To Me Strait” - From his Not A Moment Too Soon breakthrough disc, this cut paid homage to a man that many artists – including Tim – claim as a defining influence. A tribute to Strait in style as well as in lyric, with many of his biggest hits being name-checked.
1995 - “Dont Mention Memphis“ - Though the bulk of his All I Want album focused on up-tempo fare such as “I Like It, I Love It,” McGraw showed a penchant for some more dramatic sounds here, such as this overlooked gem.
1997 - “You Turn Me On” - Sometimes, all a song needs to do is sound good, and inspire you to turn the volume up – LOUD. That’s what I was doing with this cut from Everywhere.
1999 - “Senorita Margarita” - If Tim (and Curb) ever left a hit record on the floor, they did so with this track from A Place In The Sun. The beat and melody were intoxicating, and vocally, McGraw showed how much he had developed over the years. One of his greatest performances, bar none.
2001 - “Telluride” - Set This Circus Down was one of his most hit-filled packages, and this song was one of the most ambitious productions of the entire set. He was so succesful during this time that even his album cuts were bettrer than most people’s singles.
2004 - “Blank Sheet Of Paper” - One of the first McGraw tracks to be written by the Warren Brothers, legendary tunesmith Don Schlitz is also listed as one of the composers of this highly emotional cut from his Live Like You Were Dying disc.
2004 - “Kill Myself” - Also from Live Like You Were Dying, this song is not what you think it is going to be lyrically, thanks to a passionate performance from Tim, as well as incredible lyrics from Anthony Smith, Bob DiPiero, and Bobby Terry.
2007 - “Shotgun Rider” - Let It Go featured what might be my favorite of Tim’s collaborations with wife Faith Hill. Though not a duet, her harmony notes on this cut are exhilarating. Plus, for two acts that are regarded as “crossover” at times, this was Country with a capital C.
2009 - “You Had To Be There” - Over the years, McGraw’s ability to capture a variety of emotions with his music has only gotten better, and he lays it all on the line emotionally about a man trying to come to terms with his past...and his present.
And, in continuing his legend at picking great material, when you pick up a copy of Two Lanes Of Freedom this week, pay special attention to “Nashville Without You.” It’s a totally reverential look at some of the sounds and lyrics that have shaped Music City – from an artist who has added his own distinctive chapters to the ongoing story.