Deconstructing Rodney Atkins

“More people in country music wear cowboy hats... But more real people wear ball caps.” -- Rodney Atkins, 2007Rodney Atkins has been on a winning streak of late.To hear him tell it, his recent string of successes can be attributed to the fact that, with his second album, he is finally being true to himself. The change is visible. Atkins now looks very different than he did in the promo shots that accompanied his 2003 debut, Honesty. Back then, he looked like Nashville's idea of a country star: … [Read more...]

A Smattering of News and Links

Ted Nugent thinks he can 'fix' country fans. Actually, he calls us country and western fans, but I corrected his wording since it's no longer 1975.Aaron Tippin sure seems to like rereleasing his hits. This time Cracker Barrel is helping him. The album, due May 6, will be evenly split between new and old songs.99.9 KISS Country out of North Carolina has a page of videos from a lunchtime concert series. Performers include Mark Chesnutt, Jake Owen, and Billy Currington. The Mark Chesnutt video … [Read more...]

A Dozen Songs About Her New Man

Future Mister Me - Randy Travis (from Full Circle)Who's That Man - Toby Keith (from Boomtown)Do You Want Fries With That - Tim McGraw (from Live Like You Were Dying)I Meant Every Word He Said - Ricky Van Shelton (from RVS III)Why Didn't I Think Of That? - Doug Stone (from Greatest Hits)Just Married - Marty Robbins (from 16 Biggest Hits)The Ghost of Another Man - George Jones (from I Am What I Am)My Son Calls Another Man Daddy - Hank Williams (from Original Singles Collection)He's Got You - … [Read more...]

“Voices” – Chris Young

You can hear this song at Chris Young's Myspace. This single might do well at radio. Or it might not. It's that sort of song, neither an obvious winner nor an obvious loser compared to anything else that's currently getting played. Certainly, the fault is not in Chris Young's delivery. His performance here confirms what we already learned about him on Nashville Star – he can definitely sing. It's a shame, then, when he's saddled with material like “Voices,” a song as nondescript as its … [Read more...]

Kids Grow Up, Get Married, and Have Kids

When songwriters find a formula that works, they use it. This formula clearly works. Many of the following songs were #1s on the Billboard country chart. They all use the youth→marriage→parenthood cycle as a major structural feature of the narrative. Some do it better than others, but the radical in me wonders: why do it at all?There Goes My Life – Kenny Chesney (#1 in 2003) Hell I'm just a kid myself / How am I gonna raise one? Nothing like an unplanned pregnancy to speed up the maturing … [Read more...]

Album Review: Paul Overstreet – Something For the Road

Something for the Road

Paul Overstreet cowrote classic wedding songs like “Forever and Ever, Amen” and “When You Say Nothing At All.” A string of wholesome smash hits made him a respected, viable commercial songwriter... and, as time wore on, the boring Family Values Guy. As early as 1994, All Music's Dan Cooper noted that he seemed a bit too obsessed with convincing everybody that he’s a good Christian man who just can’t wait to get home to his wife. There’s more to life – and music – than family values, no matter … [Read more...]

“Johnny and June” – Heidi Newfield

newfield single

Name-dropping songs are a dime a dozen these days. Taylor Swift hit big with “Tim McGraw.” Now, Tim McGraw is giving “Kristofferson” a shot. No word yet on when Kris Kristofferson will begin writing “Taylor Swift,” but rest assured that it will be a doozy. I hate this trend. For my money, the worst is “Johnny Cash,” a song which I've had the misfortune of hearing in two different versions – the Jason Aldean single and the earlier Tracy Byrd album cut. "Johnny and June" scared me right up … [Read more...]