You’re not going to believe me but when I heard this song while Spotify-ing Lori McKenna’s new album “The Bird and the The Rifle” I had no idea it was recently a #1 country hit for Tim McGraw. Found that out later but on first listen it just seemed a heartfelt advice song from a mother to a child, mostly basic stuff, don’t cheat, don’t steal, visit grandpa. It’s hard to come up with much new advice when you’re talking to your kids, as Randy Newman warned as long ago as “Memo to My Son” and I too have found. Maybe it was the making of the effort that moved me. Anyway, totally choked up.
Advice songs, though. “May you stay…forever young.” All the things I have to do, “dance like no one’s watching,” “know when to fold ’em.” That annoying sunscreen song, probably about half of George Harrison’s output. The guy in the Jason Isbell song nagging me not to sing a fake British accent…fuck you! I’ll sing in a fake British accent if I want! You haven’t heard how good my fake-British-accent version of “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” is!
Perhaps I’m being overharsh. Honor the intentions, take it all with grain of salt. Everyone has their reasons, perhaps never more so when giving advice.
(I may have the germ of my own advice song just in those last two sentences.)
This song though: “always stay humble and kind.” I guess good advice. I have sort of tried to live my own life by both, perhaps another reason the song resonates for me. Has it worked out? Off and on, off and on. All in for “kind” but not sure I’ve been as consistently well-served by “humble.”
The song starts this way:
There’s a light that glows by the front door
Don’t forget the key is under the mat…
Which makes me think of my friend Susie, whose father once told her anytime she wanted to come home, for any reason, from wherever she happened to be, all she had to do was call and there’d be a plane ticket, no questions asked. I hope someday I’m in a financial position where I can make the same promise to my son.
It ends this way:
Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you
When you get where you’re going turn right back around
Help the next ones in line…
The wisdom of which restores my faith in giving advice. It’s a strong album overall. My favorite line is from another song, and is intended as an ultimate compliment: “You could be the laugh that I get in the kitchen chair, making up the day’s grand plans.”