Tim McGraw featuring Gwyneth Paltrow – “Me and Tennessee”

Blake Boldt | March 9th, 2011

Tim McGraw & Gwyneth PaltrowSongwriter: 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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  1. [...] #30. The latest single “Me and Tennessee”, a duet with Tim McGraw, is being universally panned by critics, and sits at #41 on the charts, while the “Country Strong” movie can’t be found [...]
  1. Mitch
    March 9, 2011 at 11:41 am

    “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”

    Really? Did you just not listen to the part where Paltrow continues later in her verse: “But now you’ve done a few things that I cant forgive//driving to her house//telling her you love her//lying on a Friday night”

    That’s as clear as day to me, and doesn’t make the song confusing. It’s not cryptic; her lover was cheating on her at the same time he was promising a life of love ahead of them.

  2. Blake Boldt
    March 9, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    …Which is followed by “Ring in your pocket, lying to me all along/In the back of your truck with the radio on.”

    The verse is so muddy that I can’t make much sense of it. Could they have possibly been split up by the time that he went to the other woman’s house? If someone can explain the storyline better, I’d love to hear it. It’s confusing. He might’ve went to this woman’s house and said he loved her without explicitly cheating possibly? Did this all happen on the same Friday night?

  3. AtlantaFan
    March 9, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Not a fan of this song either. The part I really dislike is the “yeah, yeah, yeah”. This is one of my least favorite songs on the album.

  4. Mitch
    March 9, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    My interpretation of that part is they were about to start a life together. They were planning and ready for a proposal to the co-narrator, but all while this was happening, he was in love with the other woman and secretly seeing her. The co-narrator found out about it.

    In the line “Ring in your pocket//Lying to me all along//in the back of your truck with the radio on”, she is saying ‘Even during the times of our fondest memories and love…even as we were planning a life and marriage, you still wouldn’t tell me the truth about this’

    The whole song is about their confrontation after his crime was discovered. He is saying in a nutshell “Ok so I know this awful, and I know things have gone horribly wrong, but think of the amazing memories and times we share…(being in the back of his truck with the radio on being their fondest). She is basically saying, “I forgive you, but I can’t continue on with you after what you’ve done.”

  5. M.C.
    March 9, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    According to the website boxofficemojo.com, “Country Strong” has taken in $20 million to date. It’s production and promotion budget was $15 million.
    I know it’s widely characterized as having done disappointingly, and Sony Pictures undoubtedly hoped to make much more, but I think calling it a “bomb” is a bit exaggerated–even though others have said the same thing.

  6. Barry Mazor
    March 9, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    MC, that production cost figure would be very low these days. Maybe they saved money by never buying a script.

  7. M.C.
    March 9, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Ha, Good point, Barry. Actually director Shana Feste also wrote it. So, in a sense, the studio didn’t have to pay for the script.
    The budget figure comes from the boxofficemojo site, too, which is a popular and reliable website for the film industry. They usually have accurate figures. It obviously was a low-budget venture from the start, which is probably why they hired so many young Nashville musicians to fill the smaller roles.

  8. Barry Mazor
    March 9, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Lots of Nashville musicians. Chris Scruggs was outstanding as “musician asleep on the bus.” His finest film role so far.

    And yeah, I know about the director’s alleged script. I think they were expecting big things from the picture, and as so often happens–NOT.

  9. Ben Foster
    March 9, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    This single is uninteresting indeed. No melody, no discernible storyline. Couldn’t agree more with the review.

  10. Jeremy Dylan
    March 9, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    I love this track. Maybe Chris Martin should pick up a deal as a staff songwriter for Universal if this pop star thing doesn’t work out for him.

  11. Rick
    March 9, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    If Shana Feste had wanted to earn some real money, then she should have cast Carrie Underwood in the lead role. All of Carrie’s crazed and loyal fembot A.I. fans would have flocked to the theater like a bunch of lemmings headed for the cliff even in spite of the bummer ending.

    Oh, and I wouldn’t call the box office receipts a total bomb, although gross box office receipts do not all go to the persons who made and distributed the film. This film will be lucky to break even for those who financed it. In comparison “Pure Country 2: The Gift” was truly a bomb in every sense of the word…

  12. Ian
    March 9, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    And I thought Trace’s Adkins “Brown Chicken Brown Cow” was the lowest low in country music this year…

  13. addie
    March 9, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Ring in his pocket…his wedding ring? Hiding it from the woman he’s having an affair with?

  14. Terry
    March 10, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Country Strong was a great song !! wish I could find movie

  15. Jodee Hammond
    March 10, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    The thing I enjoy about the country music industry is people’s willingness to go above and beyond to help others, which seems to be what the’yre doing for Gywneth’s career here. Although I do tend to disagree about the industry’s openness to pretty much anyone (i.e. Jessica Simpson, Jewel — who are both talented but should stick to their genre), I enjoyed the movie and the song Country Strong. I think Gywneth did a decent job with that song, and in turn, it really helped to promote the movie. It was a good move on the advertising/PR side because look at how much attention the movie and Gywneth receive. Kudos to the brains behind that move. As for continuing her singing career — I think I would stop while I was ahead! Just my thoughts!

  16. Jeremy
    March 10, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    I think Paltrow actually does a pretty good job in this song, but this just isn’t Tim McGraw’s style. Either way, the chorus is just so bland and boring. Actually the whole song is. Chris Martin needs to stick to writing rock songs. Can we give it 2 thumbs down?

  17. Alison
    March 10, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    While I have enjoyed Paltrow’s recorded versions of these songs, her performance at the Oscar’s was TERRIBLE. Just awful. That soured me for any future music from her- she’s not a singer, she’s an actress who got a chance to sing and I think she sould leave it at that, IMHO.

  18. Rebecca
    March 10, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Anyone who loves food, wine and music will love this collaboration between Tim McGraw, Chef Tim Love and Ravenswood Winery – the perfect Pairing. Check the event out right here: http://bit.ly/fBVhzq

  19. Spoony Love
    March 11, 2011 at 2:21 am

    I think the melody(?) sounds way too much like Bleu Edmonson’s “The Echo (Maybe Tonight)” kinda weirded me out at first. She can sing though, as much as I didn’t want another “country singer” to just show up from pop. culture.

  20. Steve M.
    March 11, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    I can’t wait for Country Strong 2 starring Kathy Bates when it goes straight to DVD.

  21. Hoangalicious
    March 23, 2011 at 5:56 am

    I think who said this song didn’t have a melody is totally wrong.
    Have you ever heard Coldplay’s music? It’s exactly that kind of sound but with country composition instead.
    And i couldn’t agree more with MITCH. This is what the song about.
    And a song (or a work of art) doesn’t have to open everything for the world to see. Its meaning is hidden behind those thought-to-be-plain words.

    Gwyneth’s vocal is not the greatest, but her voice perfectly fits this production.

  22. Steven McDonald
    April 10, 2011 at 4:09 am

    I heard this song on the radio a couple of times, enjoying the country feel. I didnt know anything about Country Strong.
    I’ve suddenly taken a real liking for the song, probably because i relate to the storyline behind it.
    This has led me to researching where it came from, which film its associated with and who wrote it. I just assumed it would be Tim McGraw.
    Being a massive U2 fan for many years, i cant stand Coldplay or Chris Martin, no offence Coldplay fans but they just jumped on U2s bandwaggon writing big stadium orientated songs only melancholy and dirge like. I could go on a while here!
    Back to Me And Tennessee.
    Should my opinion change now i’ve discovered the writer? No probably not. I think its a great song, my opinion now however is Martin has taken all the country cliches and stuck them together in 1 song, my heart my truck the radio on, when we first met, how it went wrong, how you broke my heart.
    Still it works and the moog over the verse is fabulous, Foo Fighters used that too on there Skin and Bones and it works. Its like listening to the moon. Yes the moon.
    Maybe the bad feedback is due to the writer, and perhaps would have recieved better reviews if it had been Tim McGraws work…

  23. Suzy S
    April 12, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    I love the song, can’t get it out of my head!!

  24. Hannah K
    May 9, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    I think its kind of obvious what the lyrics mean

    Driving to her house, telling her you love her,
    Ring in your pocket, lying to me all along,
    In the back of your truck with the radio on.

    Its obvious he is seeing another woman behind her back and telling her he loves this other woman.

    Ring in your pocket means they were married and he took off his wedding ring to hide the fact he was married.

    Again the next line states he was lying to her the whole time, telling he was somewhere when he wasn’t with the last lyric referring that like their first night in his truck listening to music on a Friday night, that thats what hes doing with this new girl and thats when he’s lying to her.

    I personally like the song, no im not big on yeah yeah yeah part and that could have had some lyrics to fill that space but I do really like the song. Its about a man who cheats and his wife being hurt and not knowing if she can forgive him but wanting to and wanting to make it work and be with him.

  25. Wendy
    May 21, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    I’ve just returned from a trip to the States and one of the films on board Virgin Atlantic was Country Strong. Having been a ‘rock chick’ in my teenage years (big into Led Zep and Deep Purple) I tend to steer as far clear of country music as I possibly can – however I was interested to see if Paltrow could actually hold a tune so watched the movie. Not the best script, granted – however the voice of her ‘support act’ ‘Bo’ left me absolutely mesmerised. Despite being jetlagged I’ve just googled the film and found out it is Tim McGraw – never heard of him (told you I’m a country philistine!) – but I intend to find out a lot more about his music and perhaps download my very first country album. Scary. I know real country fans might think the film is weak and the title song ‘Country Strong’ leaves something to be desired, however as a vehicle to bring Tim McGraw and the country music scene to a much much wider audience, it succeeds brilliantly.

  26. Matt
    May 23, 2011 at 10:00 am

    I normally don’t like anything with mcgraw’s name on it but I actually enjoyed this song.

    Does the 9513 ever review a song they actually like?

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