Country Mike

Red Ragtop, AJ and more

Mike Sudhalter  |  June 3, 2007

Hey, I'm listening to "Red Ragtop" by Tim McGraw on my iPod. We've all heard McGraw say that he's interested in pursuing a career in politics. This will be one song that he'll have to answer questions about, because it has to deal with the very controversial topic of abortion. In the song, it's difficult to tell if the narrator thinks the couple made the right decision regarding the abortion.

McGraw has identified himself as a Democrat, but I know little about his political platforrm other than that. Perhaps, he doesn't have one at this point. But this one of his few songs that delves into politics.

Moving on, how many times can a song be recycled? I'm talking about "Missing You", the 1980's hit by John Waite. It was a great song in its heyday, and then Brooks and Dunn delivered a surprisingly strong version of it.

The song's back on the charts as a duet with Waite and Allison Krauss. I think this is a really good project for Krauss, but I still think it ranks behind the original and the Brooks and Dunn number.

I think Krauss is an unbelievable bluegrass musician. I just wished she hadn't collaborated with one of the greatest country singers of all-time, Alan Jackson. Jackson sounded great cranking out hurtin' songs and honky-tonk anthems. I was actually anticipating a bluegrass album when I heard he was working with Krauss.

That might work out well, but the last album just goes against everything this great artist has done over the past two decades. Let's hope it's an anomaly. I wondered if Jackson was drifting away from country with 1998's "I'll Go On Loving You". Looking back, it was kind of an original type song that no one, at least in recent country music, had done before.

"Like Red on A Rose" was fine, but I really didn't like the new version of "A Woman's Love". I cringe whenever I see the video or hear it on the radio. The original version, oddly enough, was one of my favorites - a hidden gem that only dedicated Jackson fans knew about. I still remember buying the "High Mileage" album the day it came out - I was just a few days into my freshman year at the University of Delaware. There was a great little record store where you could sit and listen to music before you bought the records. I wasted countless hours in that place.

Anyways, hearing "A Woman's Love", all jazzed up with a new melody eight years later was like this: you're hanging out with your girlfriend at this cozy honky-tonk drinking domestic beer and having a great time with all your friends, only to break up and see her getting out of a limousine with another guy, drinking wine and getting ready to see a symphony in some big city.

That said, there were a couple of good songs on the "Like Red on a Rose" album, including the "Firefly Song" and "Where Do I Go From Here (A Trucker's Song)". Even when AJ isn't country, he's still country if you know what I mean.

This is going to sound really strange, but I was flipping through the cable channels and saw the Howard Stern biopic film. It was early in the movie, and he was working at a radio station that had recently changed from rock to country. He insulted country music and its listeners before quitting the Detroit-based station, doing country music a big favor by the way! But more importantly, the song he was playing when he quit was "Cattle Call" by Eddy Arnold. I didn't know what the song was, until I was reading about Arnold a few nights later. What a classic! I don't think Arnold gets enough credit as the legend he was. I could listen to that yodeling all day long.

I just finished listening a hidden gem, "Mary's Just A Plain Jane" by Rick Trevino. Trevino was one of the most underrated artists of the 1990's, and this song really speaks to the heart of country music. It's about regular people who love each other, their small-town life and country music. Yes, it's a little bit cliche, but it's also refreshing to hear a song that tells a story of humble folks like Mary and Billy. And you don't have to be from a small town in Kentucky to relate to it, either.