Tim McGraw Maps Out a Highway of Independence While Traveling Down "Two Lanes of Freedom"
Tim McGraw's "Two Lanes of Freedom"
"Two Lanes of Freedom" is more than just the name of Tim McGraw's newest CD. It's also what the artist was given following his decades long relationship with his former record label. The break-up might have been nasty - filled with he said/she said press releases, lawsuits and counter lawsuits, and lawyers are still piling up the billable hours - but when all was said and done, not only did Tim McGraw sign with Big Machine Records but he also signed his personal Declaration of Independence.
With a renewed spirit and passion, and a collection of really well-written songs, McGraw hit the road running and "Two Lanes of Freedom" just might be the best work of his hall of fame career. He's proven that even among the ever-growing stable of new generation stars (Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Eric Church, Keith Urban, etc.) McGraw is not only still relevant but just might be back at the head of the class.
Tim McGraw - Truck Yeah (Official Video)
Download "Truck Yeah" mp3 by Tim McGraw from Amazon.com
The title track, "Two Lanes of Freedom," is basically the road map for the entire CD - laying down a guide for what's to come: fun, country, emotional, Tim McGraw music. The most telling thing about this collection of songs is that McGraw's most recent #1 hits - "One Of These Nights" and "Truck Yeah" - just might be the weakest of the songs on this CD. In fact, of the 11 tracks on the new album, eight might one day find themselves included in a "Greatest Hits" collection.
A few of my personal favorites on the disc include "Nashville Without You," "Number 37405," "Book of John," and "Highway Don't Care."
Brad Paisley has made a habit of taking older country music song titles and reworking them into new music ("Old Alabama," "This Is Country Music," and "I'm Gonna Get Drunk and Play Hank Williams") but McGraw may have found the topper of this niche with "Nashville Without You." It helps to know a little bit about the Nashville music scene to get all of the references, but any country music fan will have fun trying to count all the song titles included over the course of the 3 minute and 37 second song. (I've counted over a dozen!)
Hey Good Lookin', Hey Momma Tried, Hey Gambler, Hey Country Boy Can Survive, Hey Jolene! You know it's true that Nashville, wouldn't be Nashville, without you.
"Number 37405" on the surface is a prison song about one man doing time. Underneath the surface, McGraw weaves an instructional lesson for every man (and woman). We all make mistakes and we all make bad choices. But what we choose to do once those mistakes are made is what matters most. Do we take responsibility and own up to our discretions? Do we acknowledge our sins and ask for redemption? Or do we look for blame in others, blame in situations, blame in basically anyone or anything but ourselves?
Old judge on the bench said, "Son, your crime's got consequences." It's what he told him, fifteen years ago. He took a life and that's a fact, he'd give his own to give it back.
Probably the most Tim McGraw of the songs on the new CD is called "Book of John." It's the simple, reflective, heartfelt lyrics and the sincere empathy in his vocals that we first heard in "Don't Take The Girl" and probably heard at its best in "Live Like You Were Dying." The John in this song is not the one in the bible, but a father, a brother, an uncle, a son...who leaves behind a photo book of memories for a family of mourners.
There was a picture of mama in the pouring rain. Ticket stubs to a Braves game. Silver star and a baggage claim from Hanoi, Vietnam. There was a picture of him callin' on grandpa. Leather skin from a baseball. We laughed and cried, told stories all night long. From the book of John.
When Taylor Swift made her debut on the country music charts it was with a song called "Tim McGraw." Now, the music's come full circle with McGraw including the pop/country songstress on the song "Highway Don't Care." While not a typical duet, the song includes sweet Swift vocals in all the right spots. Before hearing it, I wouldn't have imagined the pairing of these two voices would mesh. But they do. And when you add in some superb guitar work by another country superstar - Keith Urban - you end up with one of the most enjoyable and radio-friendly songs on the CD. I'm not sure how many times Tim McGraw has found his music on the Top 40 Pop charts, but this one is certain to find its way there.
The highway won't hold you tonight. The highway don't know you're alive. The highway don't care if you're all alone. But I do, I do. The highway won't dry your tears. The highway don't need you here. The highway don't care if you're coming home. But I do, I do.
Many critics predicted that Tim McGraw's career was over when he parted ways with Curb Records and subsequently signed with Big Machine Records. But the opposite may just be the case. With his new found freedom and independence and a brand new record label, McGraw just might ride "Two Lanes of Freedom" all the way to the top of the country music world once again.