Mark Chesnutt – “Things To Do In Wichita”
Songwriters: Jimmy Ritchey and Bob Regan.
Mark Chesnutt’s latest, “Things To Do In Wichita,” follows in the footsteps of countless country artists who, through song, provide detailed lists of The Activities They Do In Futile Attempts to Ignore Heartbreak.
Unfortunately, Chesnutt’s list of activities (“Read USA Today front to back/Kill most of the morning doing that/Then take that lonely walk back to the room/Watch reruns on and off all afternoon“) is as boring to listen to as the activities themselves would be to participate in. The lyrics don’t even share the darkly humorous absurdity of the Statler Brothers’ classic “Flowers On The Wall,” which finds the group “Playing solitaire ’til dawn with a deck of fifty-one/Smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo.”
“Things To Do In Wichita” is instantly forgettable, and while it may be an accurate representation of things to do in Wichita (evidently, there’s not much), there’s nothing here that makes the lyrics anything other than chatter, so generically uninteresting that Chesnutt could be singing the TV Guide listings to equal effect.
Lyrics aside, the song is beautifully arranged. Crying pedal steel accents twangy guitars without overshadowing Chesnutt’s smooth baritone, and it should, by all accounts, have at least some presence at country radio; the chorus is extremely catchy and is certain to worm its way into the hearts of those homesick for 1990s neotraditionalism. In fact, it’s exactly the type of song that would have been successful fifteen years ago–in spite of its lyrical shortcomings–thanks to Chesnutt’s simply lovely voice.
Lofton Creek is set to continue pursing support for the song into the first part of 09, despite the fact that it is already deep into is country radio gestation period. Unfortunately, its inability to chart at all (let’s not forget that even Chesnutt’s ill-advised cover of “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” charted) suggests that for the majority of modern listeners, neotraditionalism—and traditional traditionalism, for that matter—are things of the past.
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