Tim McGraw featuring Gwyneth Paltrow – “Me and Tennessee”
Songwriter: Chris Martin
The motion picture Country Strong bombed at the box office upon release, but its companion soundtrack produced impressive tracks from Faith Hill, Lee Ann Womack and Chris Young (with Patty Loveless). Two Top 30 country hits are also featured on the project: Sara Evans’ “A Little Bit Stronger” and the debut country single for Gwyneth Paltrow, “Country Strong.”
In fact, it’s Paltrow’s entries–she’s featured on four of the 13 songs—that have made the soundtrack a frequent target of media attention. You can expect her to remain Music Row fodder for the foreseeable future: the Academy Award-winning actress this week signed a recording contract with Atlantic Records. If she plays her hand right with top-notch material, she’s proven to be a capable vocalist who, though no Reba or Carrie, can stand her ground with the format’s current crop of female talent.
But with “Me and Tennessee,” a duet with co-star Tim McGraw, Paltrow is unable to lift a lifeless song to greatness. The storyline, racked with hackneyed lyrics of love gone wrong, moves along without pause or purpose. This separated pair reminisces about time spent “talking ’til the night was gone/In the back of (the) truck with the radio on.” These moments are just memories after the husband commits some unforgivable and unexplained sin. It’s never clear just how he’s hurt his wife, but whatever transgression occurred was no minor matter: “But now you’ve done a few things that I can’t forgive,” Paltrow sings. That concept deserves further exploration, but the song just sputters to a confusing end.
The song is colored with steel guitar flashes, but they serve as an unnecessary accent to the moody melody. And neither singer musters up the chemistry that might have shot a spark through this dull acoustic arrangement. The vocal performances by McGraw and Paltrow are pleasant and satisfying, but the strong bond between these two star-crossed lovers never quite materializes on record. Considering the three big talents involved (Chris Martin, Coldplay singer and Paltrow’s husband, is sole writer of the song), “Me and Tennessee” is surprisingly uninteresting.
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