Country stars’ songs are getting suggestive
By Brian Mansfield, Special for USA TODAY
Tim McGraw’s new single just might be the best trucking song you’ll hear all year.
At least that’s what his new record label hopes.
Truck Yeah, which goes to radio Monday, is a gear-grinding, mud-flinging, guitar riff of a celebration of pickups, with a hook that’s guaranteed to get its share of did-he-say-what-I-think-he-said double takes.
It’s also McGraw’s first release for the Big Machine Label Group. McGraw says the song — written by Chris Lucas, Preston Brust, Chris Janson and Danny Myrick — has “a little bit of the attitude” of his early records, “which I kind of like.”
Big Machine chief Scott Borchetta thinks the track will remind listeners of the influence McGraw has had over younger, rock-oriented country singers such as Jason Aldean and Brantley Gilbert.
“Those guys are directly descended from what Tim was doing early in his career,” Borchetta says. “He was one of the first to bring in those Southern-rock guitar. It’s a great way to show what Big Daddy’s up to.”
A new single from McGraw might be a big trucking deal, but it’s not the first country song to hint at a swear word or sexually suggestive phrase. Blake Shelton topped the country chart with Some Beach in 2004, and Sugarland had a No. 1 single with It Happens in 2008. Last year, Craig Campbell pulled a bait-and-switch, setting up a line to rhyme with “truck,” then singing “My baby likes to … fish,” and Craig Morgan just released a single called Corn Star.
Truck songs, too, have a rich history in country music, from Dave Dudley’s 1963 classic, Six Days on the Road, to Kip Moore’s Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck, which topped USA TODAY’s country airplay chart for two weeks in May. In the old days, though, the songs were more likely to be about 18-wheelers than pickups.
“This format obviously has supported novelty-type records, going back to Tim McGraw’s Indian Outlaw,” says Mike Moore, director of country programming at Entercom in Portland, Ore. “I look at Truck Yeah as a fun, up-tempo summer song, certainly a great concert song. I don’t think it’s as cheesy as Corn Star.”
Kris Rochester, co-host of the syndicated Tony and Kris in the Morning radio show, isn’t convinced yet. “Ultimately, we play what our listeners want to hear,” he says. “If it’s a hit, we’re going to play it. But from a personal standpoint, I find the song silly.
“I think Tim McGraw fans are going to love it, because it’s Tim McGraw. I think people who aren’t Tim McGraw fans aren’t going to be swayed over by it.”
This summer, McGraw’s closing his shows on his Brothers of the Sun stadium tour with Kenny Chesney with Truck Yeah. It’s one of his set’s two new songs from an album he hopes to release this fall.
“They’re going over great,” McGraw says of Truck Yeah and the other new tune, Mexicoma. “The most fun you have in the night sometimes is playing the new stuff, especially new stuff that already sounds like a hit. These two songs, when we play them, the reaction we get is like they’ve been out for 10 years already. They already sound like big hits.”
Gregg Swedberg, programming director for Clear Channel Radio in Minneapolis, agrees. “I don’t feel the least bit uncomfortable with the record,” he says.
“Is anybody going to have a problem with this? Truck no.”