Josh Turner - "I Wouldn't Be A Man"
By: Bobby Peacock
In some aspects, Josh Turner is the modern-day equivalent to Don Williams: a good, clean-cut country boy with good, clean-cut country songs and a warm, friendly voice to match. So it only makes sense that Turner has repeatedly dipped into the Don Williams catalog: first with "Lord Have Mercy on a Country Boy" from the Your Man album, and again in 2010 with a cover of "I Wouldn't Be a Man". Williams took the song to #9 in 1987, and a cover by Billy Dean (yet another good, clean-cut country boy) went to #45 in 1996.
All three versions of the song are remarkably similar in their sound and production: Williams' version used a regular keyboard instead of the Wurlitzer present in Dean's and Turner's versions, and Dean's is much heavier on the backing vocals. There are also slight variances in tempo among the three renditions. But I would have to say that Josh Turner's version is the best of the three. While Williams fell into his all-too-frequent trap of trying way too hard to sound sincere, and Dean seemed to be phoning it in, Turner finds the right balance of emotions. His voice dips down into that always-pleasant low register at the end of each verse, and pushes up into the higher range on the chorus. Mike Reid and Rory Michael Bourke's lyrics — has it really been 13 years since a Mike Reid song last hit the charts? — are simple in the best of ways, though they also offer a delightfully off-center view in the chorus ("I'd have to be from another planet / Where love doesn't exist…").
It would seem that, after a couple missteps, Josh Turner is finally on track. Even though his music is generally low-key, he's been consistently smart enough to avoid the schmaltz that he could easily have cut. This time around, he's chosen a lesser-known song to bring to the forefront, and he's really made it work. At times, I've wished that Josh would loosen up a bit more (which he did with "All Over Me"), but it's songs like "I Wouldn't Be a Man" that prove that maybe he's just fine the way he is.
You can watch the video to this song by clicking here.