Toby Keith – “Cryin’ For Me (Wayman’s Song)”
Songwriter: Toby Keith
Before his life was cut short by cancer at age 44, Wayman Tisdale had made a name for himself in two pretty diverse fields: professional basketball and jazz. He’d also been a long-time friend of Toby Keith, who sang a song on Tisdale’s last album and wrote this song days after Tisdale’s death this past May.
Several of Tisdale’s friends and band mates are on the record, most notably Dave Koz on the saxophone. Appropriately enough, the song has a smooth jazz-meets-Nashville feel, though the sax tips the scales into easy listening. The real existential question this song presents is, “Can you write a song that’s too depressing even for country music?”
I realize that we’re talking about country music here, which has a long tradition of heartbreak, misery and sad times. There have been plenty of superlative songs about the death of a loved one–Vince Gill’s “Go Rest High On That Mountain” and Guy Clark’s “The Randall Knife,” to name a couple. Those songs take on death and loss frankly, but they have a cathartic moment, and the singer by the end has moved on to acceptance.
With “Cryin’ For Me,” we’re still solidly in the grief stage. The first thing we hear is Tisdale’s outgoing voice mail message, so the song starts off on a somber, slightly morbid note and ends with Keith still crying for himself over losing a cherished friend.
I like the personal touches in the song, where Keith mentions Tisdale’s left-handed bass playing and refers to him as “Superstar.” Maybe if the song were more about those personal touches and less about Keith crying for himself, it wouldn’t seem as dreary. Yes, Tisdale has only been gone for a few months, so the hurt is still understandably fresh. But right now, there are two songs about suicide being played on the radio, and neither of them are as depressing as this one.
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