Tim McGraw – “Let It Go”

Brady Vercher | July 25th, 2008

Tim McGraw Songwriters: Tom Douglas, William C. Luther, and Aimee Mayo

The release of the title track from Tim McGraw’s album, Let It Go, extends a series of bizarre decisions, creating a case study on how not to manage an album. Despite having one of the top selling tours in country music, he only has one chart topper to his name among his past eleven releases. What makes the decision to release “Let It Go” odd is the fact that McGraw allegedly told concert-goers to expect a new album this fall, and although no date has been set in stone, the slow playlist rotation at radio makes it hard to believe that the next single will have enough time to adequately generate anticipation for a new album. In addition, “Let It Go” isn’t a strong enough song to significantly boost sales of his current album, but I don’t think radio is ready to let him go just yet, so it still has a chance to do well.

The song avoids becoming a motivational sermon by having the narrator focus inward, upon himself, but all we learn is that he’s trying to put the skeletons in his closet behind him and move on. Ultimately, without any sort of supporting story, the lyric is uninteresting and generic; in fact, it’s generic enough to be applicable to nearly any situation and only has as much meaning as the listener is willing to give it.

Lines like “It’s like carrying around the past in a hundred pound sack” and “Skeletons and Ghosts are hiding in the shadows” aren’t pretty or original, but are generally effective. McGraw mostly seems interested in trying to create a sing along with an interesting melody and while the sound is aurally pleasing, the uninspired vocal fails to make up for the lack of substance in the lyric.

“Let It Go” fits the mold for background fodder and is good for a superficial listen, but with three of the best songs on the album left untouched, its release is a bit disappointing, and despite not making any serious missteps, the song’s generic quality and acceptance of mediocrity aren’t worth a thumbs up. I’m assuming the extra time will allow McGraw to act in an upcoming movie with Robert Duvall and who knows, we might even see a seventh single from his current album.

Thumbs Down

  1. Jim Malec
    July 25, 2008 at 8:03 am

    Another ho-hum release from a staggeringly disappointing album.

  2. Libby
    July 25, 2008 at 8:10 am

    As far as the song goes, this is a time where you need a sideways thumb. Not great by any means, but, IMO, a good enough listen.

    The extras in the review puzzle me though. What do they have to do with the review of the song? Using the words “allegedly” and “assuming” are exactly why there has been so much misinformation out there and this only adds to it. Unless someone really knows, and is willing to share their source, all this is gossip and not needed in a review.

    Maybe the opinion on the single releases from this album is a little closer to the subject. But, peoples opinions differ and I’ve seen every song, except one, off the album “Let It Go” listed as one that someone thinks should have been released other than the current one.

  3. leeann
    July 25, 2008 at 8:16 am

    I liked the song, but I agree that it’s more of a potential sing a long song than a substantive one. I’ll take it over the R&B laiden “Suspicions” any day.

    In general, I liked the album, but I don’t think it is one of his best by any means and the single releases have been odd, indeed.

  4. Jim Malec
    July 25, 2008 at 8:23 am

    I agree to an extent, Libby–but I’d just point out that our reviews historically often carry a certain amount of context in addition to the blood-and-guts analysis.

    I think the context surrounding this is fair game, considering how confused McGraw’s fan are right now.

  5. Brady Vercher
    July 25, 2008 at 8:30 am

    Libby, I agree that the thumbs up/down can be restrictive, but I also think it forces us to develop a defensible position on a song. It causes people to think about the song and generates discussion itself. I don’t think a multi-point system is effective in that regard. I also agreed, as I mentioned in the review, that the song is aurally pleasing.

    The bit about acting was a round about way of saying that he’s overextending himself with his multiple endorsement deals and side projects, which is an important aspect to consider.

    If I recall correctly, last year at Big State Festival, McGraw told the audience that he’d have an album out early this year. Since then, reports have pegged him as saying that he’d have an album out this fall. It’s not something that I made up.

    In either case, it’s just thought to chew on, but it’s not gossip or some larger spread of misinformation.

  6. Chris N.
    July 25, 2008 at 9:48 am

    When it comes to album release dates, the artist is never the most reliable source.

    I love the McGraw album, but yeah, the best songs are just sitting there as album tracks.

  7. Alison
    July 25, 2008 at 9:57 am

    I wish they’d listen to my intuition, and release the tune that would’ve done the best. “Whiskey & You” is so damn good. Best one on the album, IMO.

  8. Drew
    July 25, 2008 at 10:03 am

    I think the song is okay, and better than all the other releases from the album so far, but still think that there were other and better songs he should’ve picked to release from this album. I was hoping he’d pick “Nothin’ To Die For”, and still have no idea why he released “Suspicions”, which just was not a good song in my opinion.

  9. Drew
    July 25, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Whiskey & You would not have done very well with the way the charts look right now. It’s a strong song lyrically, but just doesn’t have enough of a melody to warrant repeated play by radio and I think would be another 10-20 range song, ala “Kristofferson”.

  10. Lucas
    July 25, 2008 at 10:15 am

    I haven’t bought the album, but the promotion has been poorly executed.

  11. Rick
    July 25, 2008 at 10:39 am

    In the review Brady writes: “Lines like “It’s like carrying around the past in a hundred pound sack” and “Skeletons and Ghosts are hiding in the shadows” aren’t pretty or original, but are generally effective.”

    Let’s compare and contrast with the chorus from top cowboy singer Dave Stamey’s self-penned lost love song “Mountains Of The Heart”:

    “The mountains of the heart they are haunted,
    Filled with granite shadows deep and stark,
    And the ghosts of things that might have been so lonesome ever wander,
    Forever through the mountains of the heart,
    Forever through the mountains of the heart….”

    I’d say Dave kicks Timmy boy’s ass on this one….

    Back in 2007 it was Faith whining that country radio had turned their backs on her and now its Timbo with music all over the map. Its a good thing Tim is getting so into acting so he’ll have something to do besides tour and act when Airhead Country Radio finally loses interest….

  12. Matt C.
    July 25, 2008 at 10:44 am

    You’re right on the money here. The single releases from Let it Go have been horrible. I’d be complaining about artistry even if they had all gone to number one, but it’s quite a feat to take a still viable, albeit fading, superstar and release six consecutive artistically and commercially unsuccessful singles (well, ok, I grant the artistic merit of “If You’re Reading This” and “I Need You”).

  13. Brady Vercher
    July 25, 2008 at 10:52 am

    “I Need You” and “If You’re Reading This” were both worthy singles indeed, but, correct me if I’m wrong, weren’t they at radio at the same time? Based upon the demand alone for “If You’re Reading This,” it should have gone to number one, although I don’t remember what songs it was up against. However, they were ill prepared for the demand.

  14. Razor X
    July 25, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Matt C., of Tim’s last 6 singles, 4 made the Top 10. How is that unsucessful? Granted, he’s not hitting #1 consistently like he was four or five years ago, but it’s a stretch to say that he hasn’t had success.

  15. Chris N.
    July 25, 2008 at 11:05 am

    I’m sure he’ll get by.

  16. Trailer
    July 25, 2008 at 11:37 am

    This album is dead. Why oh why won’t he let it die?

  17. idlewyldsouth
    July 25, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    or…’let it go’, if you will?

  18. Drew
    July 25, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Razor, I think he meant it is pretty unsuccessful considering what other country “superstars” are doing right now with similarly weak singles. Kenny Chesney’s last two singles and current single have been poor by most serious country fans standards, yet Shiftwork = #2 and Better As A Memory = #1. Carrie Underwood’s last name was a #1, Taylor Swift’s Picture To Burn and Should’ve Said No are both top 5s. Paisley’s I’m Still A Guy another #1, Rascal Flatts’ Every Day in the top 3. Country radio right now is just not consistent, here’s why: Rodney Atkins is floating around #35 after 4 straight number ones, James Otto is down near #40 after a “debut” #1, Jason Aldean is #30 or so after a few consecutive top 5s. Even Toby Keith, the #1 earning country singer from what I read recently, failed to reach the top 10 with his last two weak singles. The hypocrisy is that some artists are indeed held to the standard that they need to continue to make hit songs to have chart-toppers, as shown above. But then you have some of the real big names, and they can put whatever crap on the radio they want and it’ll still be a top 10, and probably a top 3 song. This whole point is about to be put to the ultimate test in the coming weeks, as Rascal Flatts’ has one of the worst singles that a bigtime country act has put out in recent memory. And if they can get to the top 5 with that, then the country charts are seriously flawed.

  19. Trailer
    July 25, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Yep, if RF hits Top 5 with Give… errr, “Bob That Head” and if Jamey Johnson doesn’t score a top 10 with “In Color” something is irreversibly wrong.

  20. James
    July 25, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    See I’m confused at why Tim doesn’t release “Between the River and Me”? It something that all his true blood fans know by heart now and he plays it at almost every concert. So why isn’t this lyrical gem released yet?

  21. Chris N.
    July 25, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Then we could see if you can say “son of a bitch” on country radio yet, 40 years after “A Boy Named Sue.”

  22. Matt C
    July 25, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    Brady: Yeah, at one point, there was a Tim single, a Faith single, and a Tim & Faith single at radio all at the same time. It was immensely stupid. All were worthy songs, but all underperformed.

    Razor: Tim has only had one number one (“Last Dollar”) since 2004, which is well off of his career pace. You’re right that four of Tim’s last six singles have reached the top ten, but the two that didn’t are his last two, so he’s definitely headed in the wrong direction. Several of the songs that did reach top ten had a short chart life and basically flew under the radar.

  23. Chris N.
    July 25, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    I’d go with “Train #10,” but what do I know about A&R?

  24. Peter Kohan
    July 25, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    I think Brady’s first point is the most important – the marketing of this new single means it will be worked through most of the 3rd and 4th quarters unless he’s got a complete ace single ready for the launch of the new record (whenever it is truly scheduled for release) that would trump it and then “Let it Go” would just not be worked any further at that point in time.

    I look at the immediate reaction to “If you’re Reading This” when Tim performed it live and know he is not on his last legs as an artist. He’ll still be able to get A-list cuts pitched to him by great Music Row songwriters… but there are lots of commerically viable songs out there, so chart success is never a given, even for an established artist.

  25. Stephen H.
    July 25, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Chris N., you aren’t just A&R. You’re country music. So you should know what would work best for a country artist on the country chart, for they are performing your music on your chart. Get with the program.

    I think if you were to write a brief gossip item in CW (with no byline) saying that Tim McGraw was working on a video for “Train #10,” Curb would confirm the rumor within a week. You have that much clout. ;-)

  26. Chris N.
    July 25, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Sadly, being this country does not make me powerful or influential in any way.

  27. Brady Vercher
    July 25, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Chris, are you saying that radio has abandoned you and your ilk?

  28. Stormy
    July 25, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Yeah Chris, get on the horn and start more rumors about Tim McGraw!!

  29. leeann
    July 25, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    My favorite was “Shotgun Rider.”

  30. James
    July 25, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    Another puzzling release question: Why did Keith Urban release “You Look Good In My Shirt” over “Raise The Barn” w/ Ronnie Dunn? RTB seems to be a sure commercial winner…so why the hesitation? Could it be the political nature surrounding Katrina that would prevent it?

  31. Chris N.
    July 25, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Not “abandoned” so much as “never paid any attention to us in the first place.” Print is the redheaded stepchild of the music media world. We aren’t even hip like you Interwebs people.

  32. Chris N.
    July 25, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Re “Raise the Barn”: That could always be a record-label thing. Capitol and Sony BMG would have to work out the timing so it didn’t step on B&D’s single.

  33. Brady Vercher
    July 25, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    I meant insofar as you are country. Has radio abandoned country?

  34. idlewyldsouth
    July 25, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Ask Tracy Lawrence about the releasing of a song with guest appearances from people on other labels. From what I understand, there was a big to do behind the scenes when the version with Tim and Kenny was released after the albums release.

  35. Chris N.
    July 25, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    I’m so country I didn’t even notice.

  36. Libby
    July 25, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Sorry, I don’t know how to do links. Anyways, for what it’s worth, the following is on GAC’s website:

    Country Q&A
    Week of July 23, 2008
    By Neil Haislop

    Q: Neil, can you tell me why a record company has the say in when a record is released? Why can’t the artist have a say so? Tim McGraw was telling all of his fans about his newest single he was singing on tour, “You Had To Be There”, would be on radio by this time, but now information has changed. According to what I have heard, they put his new album on hold. Tim’s fans are still waiting for his new release and yet the stations are supposed to play “Let It Go” from his last album. What gives?
    (Myra, Breese, IL)

    A: Myra, there was a recent change at Tim McGraw’s record label with the Asylum part of Curb/Asylum splitting off. That caused some changes in the upper-level staff at Curb Records. The label is still re-grouping or, as some rumors propose, they’re considering divesting themselves of the country division. So, it was just logical that they would release an interim song until the dust settles one way or the other.

    I’d have gone with “Train #10″, also.

  37. leeann
    July 25, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Hasn’t Tim expressed disgruntlement with his label for quite some time now? Does anyone know when his contract will be up…if, in fact, they’re not terminating the country division?

  38. Stephen H.
    July 25, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Here’s a scoop for Chris for the next CW:

    Tim will sign with Big Machine Records and release a duet with Trisha Yearwood as his next single. I’m also hearing that he could sign with Show Dog and fight with Toby Keith to see who can get a single back in the Top 10 first. Finally, he could end up with Def Jam; his first single will be a collaboration with Rihanna and Coffey on “Umbrella.”

    Ella.

    Ella.

  39. John
    July 25, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    The best singers ever Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and Carrie Underwood

    Has anyone recently heard one of Billy Gilman songs so good

  40. Janet
    July 25, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    The Let It Go album is one of Tim’s best album ever and also once of his most country. The problem is that they didn’t pick the best singles. Whiskey and You is song of the year quality. Between The River and Me, Train #10, I’m Workin, Shotgun Rider.

    Ineed You and If Your Reading This were both stellar songs and both should of made #1. If a crappy song like Ticks can hit number surely If Your Reading This should of.

    The problem with radio is they are stuck on playing crappy music that appeals only to the teenagers. One look and the boy band Rascal Flatts shows what is wrong with country radio.

    Kristofferson was a great song but too country and like one DJ said his audience didn’t know who Kristofferson was.

    For not getting #1 hits he is doing pretty good, in 2006 and 2007 he was the Top selling Male in country music and in the Top Ten in all of music. He was the only Male in country music in that Top Ten of sales in all of music last year. Sold over 2.3 million last year more than any other Male and only Carrie and Rascal Flatts sold more.

    Tim also was the second most played artist in country music last year, only Kenny was played more.

    Have heard three of the new songs for the new album and they are amazing.

  41. Janet
    July 25, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    Country Q&A
    Week of July 23, 2008
    By Neil Haislop

    Q: Neil, can you tell me why a record company has the say in when a record is released? Why can’t the artist have a say so? Tim McGraw was telling all of his fans about his newest single he was singing on tour, “You Had To Be There”, would be on radio by this time, but now information has changed. According to what I have heard, they put his new album on hold. Tim’s fans are still waiting for his new release and yet the stations are supposed to play “Let It Go” from his last album. What gives?
    (Myra, Breese, IL)

    A: Myra, there was a recent change at Tim McGraw’s record label with the Asylum part of Curb/Asylum splitting off. That caused some changes in the upper-level staff at Curb Records. The label is still re-grouping or, as some rumors propose, they’re considering divesting themselves of the country division. So, it was just logical that they would release an interim song until the dust settles one way or the other.

    The best thing that could happen to Tim is be rid of Curb records for good. I am waiting for the day he is no longer with that lable. I do wonder if they get rid of the country division of the label what will happen to the artists that are not at the level of Tim. Will other labels pick them up?

  42. Mirandas2cool
    July 25, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Where is Tim McGraw and what have you done with him since say… Green grass grows

  43. Janet
    July 26, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Having #1 songs does not mean you automatically sell records. Like I said Tim was the Top selling Male artsit in country music in 2006 and 2007. That means both of them years he sold MORE albums than Kenny, Toby, George, Alan, Brad or any other Male in country music. Both years he was in the Top Ten in all of music and that includes, Males, Females and groups in all of genres. In the last two years the final mumbers showed ONLY Carrie and Rascal Flatts sold more.

    Brad has had 4 numbers ones from his current album and has NOT even sold 1.2 million yet, with the album. Kenny has had 3 multiple week #1’s and a top 5 and just now went over 1.3 million. Tim with ONLY one week at #1 and two songs that didn’t even make top 10 has sold over 1.4 million. And just last week fell out of the Billboard Top 200 for the FIRST time.

    This week he has a Walmart exclusive of both his GH albums that is #8 on the Country album chart and sold over 12 million last week. It has sold over 130,000 in 10 weeks. Mind you these are his two GH albums that have sold OVER 8 million between the two of them and still are in the Top 5 of the Country Catalog chart as individual albums.

    Look at Rodney Atkins his album has been out over 100 weeks and has sold just over 1.2 million even though it has had 4 number ones and two Billboard Songs of the year. If Tim can do what he is doing and sell more than Brad and Rodney and even Kenny without #1’s just think what he would do with #1’s.

  44. Janet
    July 26, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Look at Toby Keith his last two studio album have NOT even sold a million. His Big Dog Daddy has no certifications and has sold only about 700,000. It came out after Tim’s Let It Go but has been off the Billboard Top 75 Country albums charts for weeks.. Up until last week Tim’s Let It Go had NEVER fallen out of the Billboard Top 200 and is still in the Top 30’s on the country chart.

  45. Stormy
    July 26, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    Janet: Kristofferson also had the added detriment that those of us who know who Kristofferson is:
    1. Were confused because Kris is better known for his sociopolitcal balladeering and not his broken heart song.
    2. Were left yelling at our radio, “Yeah, but Kris’ song wouldn’t suck.”

  46. Thomas
    July 28, 2008 at 3:57 am

    aimed – shot and bulls-eye that last paragraph, brady.

  47. Bobby
    July 28, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Curb is just a bad label. Look at how long they dragged Amy Dalley’s album through, releasing nearly the whole damn thing to radio before dropping her. And that album included a #27, a #23, and a #29, any of which would have been good enough for a lead-off single on any other label. They’ve screwed over just about every act on their roster at some point or another by waiting for soooo long to release their albums. Jeff Carson and Perfect Stranger both had albums that were delayed for literally years (the lead-off singles charted in 1997, but the albums weren’t released until 2002 and 2001, respectively). And don’t get me started on how many truly GOOD songs they’ve not released (“Blank Sheet of Paper”, anyone? Biggest missed single ever.) as opposed to the true crap they HAVE released (“She’s my kind of rain… like love from a pretty how town (with up so floating many bells down)”). Even when they DO put out something different (“Do You Want Fries with That”, “Suspicions”) radio just doesn’t get it.

    I wonder what label Tim would sign to if not on Curb. I also find it strange that his Style Sonic label is paired up with Mercury (Halfway to Hazard) and Warner Bros. (Lori McKenna) instead of Curb. What’s up with that?

    As for Tim’s album… “You Had to Be There” was a GREAT single choice just judging from the lyrics. If this gets canned, I’m going to whack Mike Curb and Tim McGraw with wet trout.

  48. Drew
    July 28, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    What’s this obsession with “Blank Sheet Of Paper”? The song is just boring. The narrative is from a freakin piece of paper’s point of view, and then this other guy doesn’t know what to write to his lover and just sits there and they “stare at each other”. And it isn’t even a very pleasant melody either.

  49. Drew
    July 28, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    As far as the best Tim songs which weren’t released as singles, I’d go with “Somebody Must Be Praying For Me”. It’s a moving little song which showcases Tim’s vocals about as well as any other song. “Seventeen” was a fun song too, albeit there’s about 500 songs that are about the exact same thing.

  50. Peter
    July 29, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Hey Bobby – my guess is that radio “got” Suspicions…it was the audience who agreed it even sounded dated back when Mr. Rabbitt did it.

  51. Amy
    August 1, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    I think “Sleep Tonight” is my fav unreleased Tim song. And “Train Number 10″ would’ve been a great song to release. But Janet is right, radio is catering to teenagers. Who else could like that Sugarland song, “All I Wanna Do?-oo-ooo-oo-oo-“? blech.

  52. Drew
    August 1, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    Amy, “Maybe We Should Just Sleep On It” was released as a single. It hit #4 on the country charts in 1996.

  53. John Maglite
    August 1, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    Drew: “Sleep Tonight” is a different song. It’s on his 2002 album.

  54. Courtney
    August 12, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    why is it so hard for songwriters, singers, labels, producers, whoever, to make great music anymore? why does it all have to be middle of the road good and just plain bad?

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