Originally published at The 9513 in November 2008, back when I was still young and spunky. McDonald has since rejoined Lonestar.Songwriters: Tommy Lee James and Richie McDonald.
In an election year full of tough questions and partisan bickering, former Lonestar-frontman-gone-Christian-crooner Richie McDonald offers some much-needed common ground. “How Do I Just Stop” is so gloriously simple and unequivocally lackluster that people of every political persuasion should rejoice in the opportunity to come together and have a hearty laugh at its expense.
Everything about the song and performance is comically heavy-handed. In fact, the clarity of its intention is sort of refreshing: It’s a relief to find a recording that tells you exactly what to think every step of the way. Who needs all that ambiguity and guesswork anyway? Listening to music should be easy. Here, the moody piano intro, hushed verses building to power-pop choruses, strings and echo effects applied injudiciously, and typically emotional delivery by McDonald all point to this being a real heartbreaker of a song.
And it is a real heartbreaker of a song. Just not in the way it wants to be.
It’s heartbreaking, for instance, that the singer’s hurt at losing his former wife/mistress/live-in girlfriend (we’re not told) apparently runs so deep that he can’t bear to reveal any meaningful details about her, their relationship, or the circumstances of the break-up.
We wouldn’t even know she’s female if not for a single utterance of “girl” halfway through the song. Without that one word, this could have been the first(?) country song about the dissolution of a gay marriage, which at least would have made it interesting for its novelty. As it stands, the closest we get to concrete detail is “Your eyes, your smile/So many things I’m gonna miss.” Even a hackneyed “blue eyes” and “pretty smile” would be more descriptive.
All we know for sure is that she has eyes and a mouth. Gosh, that narrows down the possibilities and completely explains why the singer is hooked on her of all people. Thanks for clearing that up, Richie.
It’s also heartbreaking that the genre that once gave us great break-up songs like “Walking the Floor Over You” and “She Thinks I Still Care” is now producing pap like this. Of course, it’s a short hop from sadness to laughter, and McDonald’s overcooked tearjerker just might be one of the most unintentionally hilarious songs of the year.