Tim McGraw – “Kristofferson”

Brady Vercher | February 29th, 2008

Tim McGraw Songwriters: Reed Nielsen and Anthony Smith

Tim McGraw’s choice of singles from his album, Let It Go, has been puzzling and the release of “Kristofferson” doesn’t do anything to curb that trend. It’s arguably one of the more traditional tracks from the album, but McGraw shamelessly namechecks the songs namesake ala Keith Urban’s “Hank Don’t Fail Me Now.”

In his review of Let It Go, Brody Vercher had this to say about the song, ““Kristofferson” falls into the current trend of using a well-known artist’s name as the title (“Tim McGraw” – Taylor Swift, “Johnny Cash” – Jason Aldean) without really paying much tribute to the person in the song. […] it’s about a man who’s woman left him with a half-written goodbye letter. So he decides to sit down with his guitar and a bottle of 90 proof to finish the letter, you know, like Kristofferson would do.” Whereas the use of McGraw’s name in Swift’s song is used to evoke the memory of a relationship, “Kristofferson” simply capitalizes on the the legend’s fame.

I don’t understand why the songwriters felt like sitting down and writing a song is something Kristofferson would do in this situation, nor how that would help the mournful narrator in his position. And if this is based on some event in Kristofferson’s life that I’m unaware of, it’s really too obscure for anyone to derive any meaning or relate to in any meaningful way.

The prominence of the steel guitar and fiddle, along with the piano, create a pleasant combination and Tim McGraw delivers on the performance. While the lyric is lacking, the song is adequately supported by the production and performance, but unfortunately, much better material was passed up to release this song as a single.

Thumbs Down

  1. Butch
    February 29, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    At least he didn’t title a song after himself. Tim McGraw sings “McGraw” I never quite understood the idea of a single. I want an artist who can make 12-15 good songs per album, not just 2-3.

  2. Katie
    February 29, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    I can’t believe how long I’ve been reading this blog and just realized Brady and Brody are two different people. I thought, why is he quoting his own review in the third person? Wow.

  3. Chris N.
    February 29, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I still have my fingers crossed that “Between the River and Me” will eventually be a single.

  4. Leeann
    February 29, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Yeah, Chris, that’s one of my favorites on that album. I also like “Shotgun Rider.”

  5. Brady Vercher
    February 29, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    Katie: Haha, yep, we’re twins. I suppose we could start using our middle names, but they both start with an S. I noticed your first comment was back in September ’07, so yeah, that’s a pretty long time.

    Chris, “I Need You” was a good release and “If You’re Reading This” was an anomaly of sorts, so other than those, they seem to have chosen three of the weakest tracks on the album as singles. I’d think “Between the River and Me” and “Train #10″ would both be good choices and a few of the others are up to the task as well.

  6. Matt B.
    February 29, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    “Between the River and Me” is a fantastic song. I loved it on the Warren Brothers record. I’m surprised Curb/Radio gave up on “Suspicions” so fast.

  7. Mike W.
    March 1, 2008 at 3:04 am

    Man, I gotta agree with the review. This is one of the weaker tracks on Let It Go, furthermore, the songs talks about how Kristofferson would have sat down and wrote a song about a woman leaving, but, really, that’s not what made Kristofferson famous at all. His instrospective, gritty songwriting is what made him famous, not his leaving songs.

    I really wish they would have put out Train #10 as a single.

  8. Donna
    March 2, 2008 at 4:46 am

    Although this is not one of my fave songs, I do like it and will support Tim Mcgraw.
    I do think there are many other great songs on this album such as Betwen the River and Me.
    Also curb probably released the song, not so much as Tim’s choice.

  9. mikeky
    March 3, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    anything that gets the name ‘kristofferson’ back on country radio is a plus. the song is ok. but mcgraw would do well to take a lesson from kristofferson himself: learn how to write a great song. the world will come to you if you do. and kristofferson is one of the greats. his writing of the last few years (mainly philosphical and political writings) is as strong as any recorded by a musician in any genre. he’s a class act.

    mcgraw’s song is ok. at least he looks up to kristofferson. i have a feeling some hitmakers nowadays may not even know who he is. :(

  10. Lucas
    March 3, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    I’m a big Tim fan, but Kristofferson isn’t my favorite tribute. Give It To Me Strait on the other hand, love it.

  11. Chris Raggio
    March 9, 2008 at 2:51 am

    Your story is a country song in the making, and I suggest you copyright it immediately. Seriously. What a touching story … it rings true to me, though my loss was not through passing to another, better world, but from divorce. And yes, I still mourn the loss, and just wish I could “get past” this point of denying it’s over, blaming myself, and move on to a new love. Additionally, your critique/review is spot on. Also, something that is missing from the other reviews, is McGraw’s reference to Kristofferson’s style, and I’m sure I misquote, “it might not even rhyme”. Anyway, God bless you and your new love, I hope I may be so blessed as you as to find that new love which does not replace the old one, but adds to the wonder of life and love as we mortals know it.

  12. jaims
    April 18, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    who actually wrote this song….does any one know how to get that info….

  13. Brady Vercher
    April 18, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    Jaims, check out the first line of the review, next to the picture.

  14. Jackie
    April 19, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Hmmmmm- Let’s see- we have a CD that has had 5 great song that went up the Charts! Can’t be that bad. Tim is AWESOME! Kristofferson is up to # 27, we’ll see.I like Nothing To Die For- its so true so many people lose their lives to drugs alcohol steroids etc.leaving grieving families behind- all for what?

  15. Leeann
    April 19, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    Am I missing something about Chris R’s comment? Is he talking about this song or another one?

  16. Rhonda
    April 29, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion. God bless America. My opinion is very different than your’s. “Kristofferson” is one hell of a good song and I predict one hell of a hit that will be sung by generations to come just like “Darling” by David Allen Coe (which also took a lot of sh**). As always, I do enjoy hearing the public’s opinion.

  17. Funk
    April 29, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    I don’t think you can hold it against a huge artist if he’s trying to bring his fans into an understanding of another artist he thinks is great. That’s one of the things I admired about Garth Brooks. He made a ton of money for Chris LeDoux and he tried to do the same for New Grass Revival (using them to record their song, Calling Baton Rouge.) I figure that’s what McGraw was trying to do with this little throwaway.

    One could argue that a really great artist could figure out a better way to bring attention to another writer, but McGraw isn’t really known as full of ideas.

  18. kim miller
    May 7, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Loved it the first time I heard it!

  19. Julie
    May 8, 2008 at 9:35 am

    Love McGraw, hate this song so much I turn the radio off every time they play it. Sounds like a whiny hound dog……

  20. Billie
    May 9, 2008 at 8:32 am

    I can’t help thinking that I have heard this song before…..does anyone know if it is a remake? and if so who recorded it first?

    Mike W. I believe you need to do a little research into Kristoffersons song writing…. He has written hundreds of songs recorded by many artists,in nearly all genre. Many of them are famous ballads about love and loss. ;)

  21. Geoff
    May 16, 2008 at 10:19 am

    yall can say whatever you want about this song, but it is awesome. it defenitely dont tdeserve a thumbs down. Tim McGraw is a well enough established artist to not need to evoke a fellow great musician’s name in order to sell albums. the first time i heard this song, i loved it, because its a song that most people can relate to, especially if they go through the the same situation. Tim McGraw is, and will be for a while at least, a well established, great singer of songs, and thus does not need to use other singers names to sell records, so if thats what yall think, yall are wrong

  22. T
    May 23, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    The Pressure is On – Hank Jr…at least parts of it anyway…the parts I really heard! I love it!

  23. RW
    May 24, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    [Screw you], you wouldn’t know a good song if it wrapped it’s lips around your [Richard].

    Comment edited for obscenity

  24. Andrew
    June 4, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    This is the best song out on the radio right now in my opinion. I normally don’t like country, but I think this song is great. Kristofferson, in his younger days, wrote a lot of great songs and drank a lot. As new country song lyrics go, c’mon, it is eloquent when compared with others. I love the piano and steel guitar.

  25. Johnny
    June 19, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    This is one of the best songs he’s ever put out, and if you guys are paying ANY attention, there’s not a lot of money being made in the record industry right now, nor are there a lot of records being sold. So, douchebags who have never played or sang a note, listen up: this is stuff that will sell a record, and overall, it’s a very good song. You guys can write/sing one better? Well, by all means, let’s hear it. Please.

    No one? Okay, then shut the HELL up.

  26. hairandtoenails
    June 19, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Johnny says “[Kristofferson] is stuff that will sell a record…” In actuality, Kristofferson failed to make the top ten on the singles charts, and it took a huge dive down the charts once it started losing spins.

    It doesn’t seem to be selling boatloads of Tim McGraw albums, either.

  27. amhe
    September 23, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    write your own effin’ perfect, evocative song, vercher

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