Tuesday, July 6, 2010

George Strait, "The Breath You Take"

I thought I might try to cushion the blow of this bad review by saying that I have the utmost respect for King George.  Many of his signature hits from "Carrying Your Love with Me" to "All My Ex's Live In Texas" have represented some of the finest moments in country music.  George has released many a song that was deserving of a perfect ten.  But if you were hoping that his new single would be of the same standard as his best-known classics, then be prepared for a crushing disappointment.

Ever heard the saying "Life is not measured by the breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away"?  "The Breath You Take" is basically that saying set to music.  He stretches the saying out long enough to form the chorus of the song ("Life's not the breath you take, the breathing in and out..." and so on).  Would you believe that this song was written by none other than Dean Dillon, the respected songwriter behind numerous George Strait hits, as well as other classics such as Vern Gosdin's "Set 'Em Up Joe" and Pam Tillis's "Spilled Perfume"?  Surely Dean Dillon and his co-writers can do better than morphing a tired old adage into a country song.  While it's definitely a nice saying, it's a saying that we've all heard countless times before.  When you attempt to craft a song around it, the song ends up sounding like one that we've heard countless times before.

The saying is translated into a typical "three-act play" country song.
ACT 1:  Dad attends son's baseball game.  Son says "I thought you had a plane to catch."  Dad says "Life's not the breath you take... it's the moments that take your breath away."
ACT 2:  Son grows up and becomes a father.  Dad comes to hospital for the birth of his son's child.  Son says "You didn't have to come."  Dad says "Life's not the breath you take... it's the moments that..." okay, you get it.
ACT 3:  The baby girl is born.  At this point, the songwriters must have realized how uninteresting the song was, so they try to make up for it by killing off the dad in the third verse.

The song would likely be more moving if, during each special moment that the dad is there for, he spoke to his son from the heart rather than quoting an old saying.  It almost sounds awkward and strange to hear the dad constantly quoting this saying in everyday conversation.

I know I will probably be crucified for giving George Strait a negative review, but the review wouldn't be any better if this song were recorded by Rascal Flatts or Carrie Underwood.  I'm not going to give George Strait a free pass just because he's George Strait, and I'm not going to pretend that this song is anything more than what it is.  The truth is that this song is simply not fit for a king.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)