My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Tim McGraw – ‘Not a Moment Too Soon’

If Tim McGraw’s debut album, with its three under-performing singles were released in the current decade, we would not likely hear from him again for another five years. But in the 90s, even Curb artists cranked out albums on a regular basis. Not a Moment Too Soon, Tim’s sophomore effort appeared eleven months after its predecessor, and marked the beginning of his commercial success, thanks in no small part to its controversial lead single.

“Indian Outlaw” is not a great song, but it does feature some mean fiddle-playing, reminiscent of of Charlie Daniels, which helped it to stand out from the pack. But it was the song’s lyrics, said to be demeaning to Native Americans, that offended those who make it a point to get offended by this sort of thing. Though some radio stations refused to play it, the controversy brought the single invaluable publicity, and propelled it into the Top 10 where it peaked at #8, and also earned it gold certification in an era when country singles rarely sold in the hundreds of thousands. The lyrics are inane, to be sure, but are firmly tongue-in-cheek, and the melody itself is rather catchy. To their credit, McGraw and Curb stood their ground and refused to back down to those who demanded that the single be pulled from the airwaves. The record stuck its finger right in the eye of the PC crowd, and for that reason alone I was pleased to see it succeed.

Unfortunately, “Indian Outlaw” was followed by “Don’t Take The Girl”, which managed to climb all the way to #1 despite being one of the era’s most annoying songs. Its contrived and overly sentimental lyrics and McGraw’s exaggerated twang grate on the ears. I always thought that Tim’s delivery sounded inauthentic in those days — one could say he was the Jennifer Nettles of that era — and the gradual disappearance of his twang over the years confirms this suspicion. Fortunately, the remaining three singles were much better. “Down on the Farm” written by Jerry Laseter and Kerry Kurt Phillips is not a cover of the Charley Pride tune from 1985. It’s a generic and somewhat forgettable tune that had the advantage of being released before rural pride anthems began to rule the airwaves. It just missed the top spot, peaking at #2. I quite like the remaining two singles, the title track which became Tim’s second #1 hit and “Refried Dreams” which reached #5.

Outside of the singles, there isn’t much else of interest here, just generic filler, the best of which is “Give It To Me Strait” a tribute of sorts to George Strait, though I have my doubts that he ever really one of Tim’s musical heroes. Still, the lyrics are entertaining:

Give it to me Strait, sing ‘Am I Blue’ while I sit here and cry
And tell my how my baby’s gotten so good at goodbye
It’s going to take a fireman to put this old flame out
So come on, give it to me Strait before I come unwound

There ain’t one country singer
That ain’t good for a a bad heartache
And for me there’s nothing smoother
Than a good stiff shot of Strait.

Guess this was before Tim became enamored with Def Leppard, Nelly, and Ne-Yo.

Not a Moment Too Soon went on to sell six million copies and was named Album of the Year by the Academy of Country Music in 1994. It is available at bargain prices at Amazon.

Grade: B-

6 responses to “Album Review: Tim McGraw – ‘Not a Moment Too Soon’

  1. Occasional Hope February 9, 2012 at 10:10 am

    I really dislike both ‘Indian Outlaw’ and ‘Don’t Take The Girl’.

  2. Jake J February 9, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    I think the title track is one of the best songs off the album. While it sounds dated I think it’s one of his best early songs that is often overlooked.

  3. Ben Foster February 9, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    My take on “Indian Outlaw” is fairly similar – not a great song, but it does have some mean fiddling. I can see why Native Americans might find it offensive though. Since it built largely on stereotypes, it basically over-simplifies the Native American way of life, and parrots back to us our own ill-educated perception of it. To an extent, I can definitely see why a person of that background would feel slighted by such a portrayal of their heritage, and I think that’s quite justifiable. For those reasons, I would not call the “Indian Outlaw” controversy a mere case of “political correctness run amok.”

    There was a time when I liked “Don’t Take the Girl,” but I’d say that time is over by now. These days, it just sounds to me like all it really does is kill off the girl for no real reason but to grab heartstrings, and I honestly don’t know why I ever liked it to begin with.

  4. luckyoldsun February 9, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    “The record stuck its finger right in the eye of the PC crowd, and for that reason alone I was pleased to see it succeed.”

    So basically, you liked the record for spite.

    I always found “Indian Outlaw” was too flat-out stupid to be offensive to me.

    I seem to recall that it went nowhere, but at some point it channelled “Indian Reservation” by the Raiders–a song that in comparison to “Indian Outlaw” was like Shakespeare and Dylan rolled into one.

  5. rowdyred February 10, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Indian Outlaw has been a channel-switcher for me from the second time I heard it. Its melody sounded disjointed to me even before it stopped dead, pivoted and turned into the Raiders song. That was a WTF moment then and it still is. The moronic lyrics are actually worse, of course. Nothing — not spite, not a smirking sense of superiority over some perceived social enemy — NOTHING would have given me satisfaction to see this song succeed. It was an absolute bomb and I’m still shocked it ever got cut, much released.

    I’m with Ben about “Don’t Take The Girl” being just cloying and trite, until the last verse made it a pointless downer. Looking back, it’s actually surprising that TM survived this mess. (I don’t know about the new mess that is Emotional Traffic, though. Good luck with your next project, T.)

  6. Ken Johnson February 10, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    At the time the “Indian Outlaw” single was released the radio station I worked for had some real concerns about it. Primarily because we received a substantial amount of advertising revenue from several businesses that were owned by a Native American tribe. We did not want to offend these extremely nice folks who we had developed personal friendships with. So when representatives of the tribe came to the station for a business meeting I played the song for them to get their reaction. None of them felt insulted but every single person thought it was one of the stupidest songs they had ever heard.

    As the song showed strong progress on the country charts due to airplay in other areas of the U.S. we felt that our listeners should have the opportunity to judge the song for themselves. We played it and it instantly became a love it or hate it situation. Nobody was on the fence. A couples of months later at our next research test for our oldies library the song received a resounding “thumbs down” and was removed from our music library. The only place the song seemed to have a constituency was at local country dance clubs. People liked dancing to it but did not really care to hear it played on the radio.

    On the flip side, “Don’t Take The Girl” was one of the most loved and requested songs that I’ve ever played on the radio. Incredibly popular.

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