Craig Morgan – “This Ain’t Nothin’”

C.M. Wilcox | January 15th, 2010

Craig MorganSongwriters: Kerry Kurt Phillips and Chris DuBois

As the final wisps of party-hearty desperation issue from the abominable “Bonfire,” Craig Morgan returns with some down-home fatalism in the form of “This Ain’t Nothin.’” Those who’ve dismissed Morgan on the basis of silly hits like “International Harvester” and the aforementioned “Bonfire” may find his latest offering more to their liking; he’s back in “Almost Home” and “Tough” territory here, with a heartfelt number delivered in an unabashedly country style, complete with fairly prominent fiddle and steel throughout.

When a reporter asks an old man about the tornado that has just destroyed his home, the man recounts some of the people he has lost during his life – a father, a brother, a best friend, and, most recently, his wife of fifty years – and explains that losing a measly house “ain’t nothin’” by comparison. Unlike his deep-down emotional bruises, the rubble in which he stands “ain’t nothin’ time won’t erase” and “ain’t nothin’ money can’t replace.”

The song doesn’t quite work as a ‘things could be worse’ object lesson because, well, it’s hard to imagine how: even death would likely be a welcome escape for a man who has already lost everything he held dear. Although we could try to extract an uplifting message about the enduring strength of the human spirit, the old man is so jaded by the time we meet him that he can’t even summon the strength to care about the loss of the last thing he had left. He’s resigned to loss, resigned to the fact that nothing will ever matter much to him ever again.

So, we’re left with… an emotionally wrecked shell of a man, surviving almost in spite of himself. With no hope that the situation will ever turn around. Spilling his guts to an anonymous reporter who probably only really wanted to know about the tornado. The lack of an impossibly convenient, uplifting conclusion makes this feel as messy as real life, but as sad songs go, it’s not even the kind that makes it fun to pull the minivan over to the side of the road and have a good cry. It’s more unsettling than anything else, in ways possibly not even intended by its writers.

And so begins an apparent subgroup of Craig Morgan singles about old men who are ready to die. The first entry in the series – “Almost Home,” with its comforting picture of the other side – was positively sunny compared to “This Ain’t Nothin,’” almost certainly one of the bleakest songs we’ll hear this year. It’s hard to imagine radio embracing it, but you’ve got to respect Morgan for having the gall to give them the chance.

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Listen: Craig Morgan – “This Ain’t Nothin”

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  1. Rick
    January 15, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Wow, this little ditty wins the “Song Title Truth In Advertising Award”! Way to go Craig….

  2. Jon G.
    January 15, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    I’m surprised you guys didn’t decide that it was just too depressing.

    I like the song, though.

  3. Matt B.
    January 15, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Craig Morgan may like the uptempo songs for his concerts but for my money, he’s always been gold on these kinds of songs.

  4. Steve Harvey
    January 16, 2010 at 6:02 am

    Go the double negatives!

  5. Vicki
    January 16, 2010 at 9:17 am

    I couldn’t stand “Bonfire” but now I’m back in his camp.

  6. Jens7
    January 16, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    I’m always surprised when people misread the meaning in Craig’s songs. This song isn’t depressing, or negative. It is about the strength of the human spirit.

  7. Jon G.
    January 16, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Jens7
    If you’re responding to my comment, I was taking a shot at 9513 for their stance on Cryin’ for Me.

  8. SW
    January 17, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    This sub-genre also includes “The Ballad of Mr. Jenkins.” I really like this group of songs and appreciate the conversationalist approach Morgan takes.

  9. Brady Vercher
    January 17, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    He said I learned at an early age/There’s things that matter, and there’s things that don’t.”

    While there is an element of fatalism, I don’t think that’s the ultimate takeaway. We’re not left with a man who can’t summon the strength to care, after all, he does smile when he responds to the reporter. But the song goes to some lengths to make it clear that the message here is about setting aside materialism and valuing what really matters.

    And in the end, when he says “This ain’t nothin’ time won’t erase/And this ain’t nothin’ money can’t replace,” it gives us a hint that he’s not really looking at it from a jaded perspective and does have an eye on the future.

    I like the song, but it really seems like nothing more than “Don’t Blink: Part 2″–from the old man being interviewed by a reporter to the wife of 50 years passing away first to coming down to the same message.

  10. Jon G.
    January 17, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    I agree with SW, but I think I like this song more than Don’t Blink.

  11. Chris N.
    January 17, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    It’s easy to misread the meaning in Craig Morgan’s songs, given the complexity and subtle nuances hidden deep within inscrutable works such as “Redneck Yacht Club.”

  12. k
    January 17, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    What kind of depresents is the author of this review on. So sorry for you that you completely lack an depth and that your hearing aid is not functioning. That must be it because I never got what you did out of this song. I have been waiting for 5 years for Craig to release it as a single. I “get” where the man is comming from. He is my dad. You suck it up when life tries to tear you down and you keep going on. My dad 84 was raised in an orfanage durring the depression. It survived it and WWII despite his ship being bombed. He survived car acidents ect. AS time passed he puts difficult times in the perspective that it could have been worse. He not the man in the song are uncaring, but rather brave.
    Great song that can bring me to tears.

  13. Paul W Dennis
    January 18, 2010 at 2:18 am

    I agree with the review other than my thumb would be sideways (neither up nor down)

  14. CMW
    January 18, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Brady:

    While I agree that the song may have been intended to convey a message about ‘valuing what really matters’ – and that’s what some people will take away from it – I’ve never put a whole lot of stock in authorial intention.

    Setting aside the couple moments in which the song rather obtusely tries to tell us what it’s about, I think the actual story created by the writers to frame their message supports the more fatalistic reading.

    Whatever else might have happened to you, losing a house is a big deal. The old man’s seeming inability to feel that loss, and rather flippant dismissal of it as being ‘nothing’ – on the grounds that it pales in comparison to past losses (dating back 60+ years), which he conversely seems ready and willing to recount in detail at the drop of a hat – sounds more like world-weary resignation than imparting wisdom to me. There’s nothing left to impress, surprise, or disappoint him, because nothing will matter as much as what he has already lost. If that weren’t the case, why would he be dredging up all these old memories in response to a question about a tornado?

    I think the cumulative weight of the hurt detailed in the lyrics outweighs whatever nominally uplifting message you might pull from one or two lines. The good news is that a man who has already lost a father, brother, friend, left hand, and wife has only lost a home this time? Sorry, that’s still pretty bad news.

  15. Leeann Ward
    January 18, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    I’m with Paul.

  16. Brady Vercher
    January 18, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    Doesn’t the fact that some losses matter to him more than others negate a purely fatalistic reading? Or are you arguing that he developed a fatalistic perspective after his wife died? In such a case where it can’t be known one way or the other, shouldn’t authorial intention matter?

    I mean, it seems like a pretty straight forward reading to me. The reporter asks him what he’s going to do now that the twister has taken all that he holds dear, he makes it clear that the twister hasn’t taken all that he holds dear and in retrospect/comparison his house doesn’t mean nearly as much as the loss of loved ones in the past (“There’s things that matter, and there’s things that don’t“–he doesn’t say there’s nothing else that matters). That he smiles when responding isn’t exactly symptomatic of someone resigned to the fact that nothing else will ever matter, either.

    And I don’t know that the loss of a house is a big deal to someone with the perspective that it ain’t nothin’ time won’t erase and money can’t replace. You and me, sure it might be a big deal, but to him? Not necessarily. Both readings could be valid as to why–but that’s where I think authorial intention makes it clear. Otherwise, you basically have to ignore the few lines in the song that poke holes in the fatalistic approach.

  17. Jon G.
    January 19, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    I really like the reaction this song is generating. Perhaps the most powerful thing about “Almost Home,” Morgan’s best single in my opinion, is the questions. Did the old man really see heaven? Was he “entering the tunnel, so to speak? Was it just a dream? Had he simply gone to sleep before the cold? Was he trying to commit suicide?
    Like “Almost Home,” “This Ain’t Nothin’” is generating its share of questions. What is the main purpose of the song? Are we supposed to walk away with a greater appreciation of what we have? Or are we meant instead to pity the old man who has lost so much that one more thing, even though it’s his house, means absolutely nothing to him? Are we supposed to feel his pain, his accumulated losses? Is the film an “It’s a Wonderful Life” or a “Scarlet Street?” I don’t think that either side can completely prove itself. These aren’t questions that will resolve themselves, and, as always, in my opinion, that is what makes this one of Craig Morgan’s strongest singles in a long while.

  18. michele
    January 27, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    I think one important element that isn’t being considered here is the faith of the old man. Seems to me w/ someone like Craig Morgan singing it, the inferences may be that his values are different and that the loss of material things don’t really matter. I personally know someone who lost their large home, which was filled w/ irreplacable items from all over the globe,due to her husbands military career, in a fire. Everything in it but a few things that blew out a wall when the whole thing exploded was lost and a few months later when I talked to her, she said she never liked the way the house was laid out anyway. Seriously. No long lament over the stuff that was gone. Just thankfulness that no one was hurt. There are people who have truly found that there isn’t much of eternal value here on earth and God provides them w/ the strength to go on even when those things of value are lost. It isn’t fatalism, it’s called faith.

  19. hwksly
    February 4, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    Craig this is a great song and ANYONE that says different is an idiot

  20. Wade
    February 5, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Well, i was sick of Bonfire, so this is a step in the right direction. Not bad.

  21. dani
    February 14, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Wow…you totally missed the boat on what this song means! This is about how the house means nothing to him because the memories and his loved ones are the ones that count. JENS7 is right on target…this song is about the strength of the human spirit. If anything this song is totally uplifting…don’t worry about the little things, make memories why you can “cause that’s somethan”!! Way to go Craig!!!

  22. Jeff
    February 19, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    HWKSLY your comment is uncalled for. People have a right to their opinions.

  23. j c
    February 25, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    i love this song and it will reach number 1 trust me

  24. Patty
    March 12, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    I lost my house and everything we owned 9 months ago in a tornado and let me tell you it’s devastating emotionally, physically, and financially. We’ve lived in a box for months while we are trying to rebuild working 7 days a week along with my 40+ hour a week job. We’re exhausted and getting way to old to start over. But no matter what you go through someone else always seems to have it worse. We have tried to keep our spirits up but sometimes it’s really tough. I did cry today when I heard this song for the first time. Not for the loss of my home but because at times I’m so depressed and I have to stop and think about how lucky we are just to be alive…..we shouldn’t be. I’m sure the song is right ….we didn’t lose anything that time and money can’t erase or replace….I just don’t have a clue when that will be and if it will be in my lifetime. Thank you for some words of wisdom that hopefully will get me through these tough days ahead.

  25. sam (sam)
    March 13, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Maybe the “This Ain’t Nothin” is just a defense mechanism of this old man. Or perhaps he’s saying this to “keep appearances up” and perhaps because he doesn’t want us to pity him. Maybe he really just doesn’t care anymore.

    I’ve only heard this song on the radio 2 or 3 times but I do think its one of Morgan’s more interesting singles. Not sure if it will do as well as Bonfire on the charts, but its an interesting song.

  26. SCUBA8USMC
    March 22, 2010 at 5:49 am

    Finally it is out in Karaoke. I loved this song from the first time I heard it on the radio and started checking the karaoke sites. It was just released for the month of Feburary. This will be the 5th Craig Morgan song in my line up.

  27. tyger
    April 3, 2010 at 10:34 am

    WOW!! What a voice!!! Wanna hear more!!

  28. Lynn
    May 6, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    I do not agree with the negativity about this song. It made me think and It made me cry. It made me think of everything in this world that I have and what would devastate me. Losing my family would be the worst. It made me think that all my material possessions are nothing compared to losing any one member of my family. This is a GREAT song by a GREAT artist.

  29. Kary
    May 27, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    This song is probably like the country song take/version on the same themes in the hollywood movie ‘As Good As It Gets’. Without alot of poetic analysis – it’s reality stuff – as are alot of TV programs today and as many country songs have long been about (circumstances & response to them) Regarding ‘the old man’ reference: age has often been regarded as relative.

  30. eli
    June 8, 2010 at 11:25 am

    this song made me remember of my grandpa he has lost his family in a bad way.

  31. NASHVILLE REALITY CHECK
    June 16, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Naysayers, Haters and Picky Self Righteous Critics… we live in a radio world filled with so many trite songs that offer “nothing”..”This Ain’t Nothin” at least offers… “something”. It makes you thankful for what you do have, it’s points out that people are more important then stuff. Both important lessons a lot of us obviously still haven’t figured out yet…need proof? just turn on the news or a reality show and time of day or night. Keep em coming Craig!

  32. Stormy
    June 16, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    It makes me very thankful for what I have–Hank III’s new cd.

  33. Jen
    July 11, 2010 at 12:52 am

    The biggest problem with this song is the grammar. This Ain’t Nothin’ literally means “this is NOT nothing.” That changes the entire meaning of every comparison in the song and destroys the entire song. The entire problem could’ve been averted if the song was simply titled “This Is Nothin’”

    If not for that error, I would give the song a solid B. But because of the horrible grammar, I give the song an F and a huge thumbs down. We should not be teaching our children that this is acceptable. It’s not.

  34. Paula
    August 2, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    I totally love this song and love what I get out of it. Loosing a house is a big thing, but the people in his life that he lost was something he couldn’t get back but he can get a house back. Anyway, I am a curious person so wanted to know how (if any) to find out if it is a true story. Not computer savvy – like to have never found this site but did find out the writers names: Kerry Kurt Phillips and Chris DuBois. Can anyone tell me how I would find out if this is a true (or partially) true story as there is a Kincaid Mine outside of Birmingham, AL (it is in Leeds, AL) really close to my house.

  35. JD
    August 16, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    This song made me really take another look. I love the lyrics and the way raig sings it is phenomimal.

  36. Eric
    August 26, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    Jen, the title is about being authentically country and/or southern that’s how a lot of people talk….and the title wouldn’t surprise you if you were familiar with country music at all. What about “I’m a redneck woman I ain’t no high class broad” or “this ain’t no love song”?

    This is a great and very deep song about the naive vs the world weary and experience, is how I see it. Actually the only strange thing is why would he choose Birmingham for a twister. It would flow the same if it was Wichita or Omaha and be more realistic.

  37. luckyoldsun
    August 26, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    Eric–
    I think Jen may be a comedienne and is practicing pulling your chain.
    I don’t think anyone who’s offended by the word “ain’t”–and the accompanying double negative–would be surfing a country music site.

    I remember seeing on TV Barbara Bush singing along to Lee Greenwood–”There ain’t no doubt I love this land, God Bless the USA” at some black-tie patriotic function.

  38. Jim
    August 27, 2010 at 8:49 am

    I saw Craig Morgan this Spring opening for Carrie Underwood and he was fantastic. He was high energy and the best opening act I have seen in years. Craig is going to pick up a ton of fans that are seeing him live for the first time on this tour. In reading up on Craig he also appears to be a great family guy.

    This Ain’t Nothin is another solid Craig song. My favorite Craig Morgan song is That’s What I Love about Sunday.

  39. WAYNOE
    August 27, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Craig is one of the good guys.

  40. Will Cass
    December 6, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    I think this song should be awarded song of the
    year, great song the songwriter did a remarkable
    job and Craig did his best.

  41. Rene'
    January 1, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    What book are the couple reading in this video. I can’t see it plain enough. I can tell the word Paradise…is it This side of Paradise Scott Fitzgerald? Anyway just curious. Rene’

  42. Christa Joy (13)
    March 25, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    This song is beautiful. When I first heard this I started to cry. I could reach this at a high emotional level for my age and I can respect the thought and time that this man has put into it. It seems like Craig Morgan is a deep man that reaches out to his audience and touches them. I hope that everyone else can understand the song through my eyes as well as theirs. I have been through some tough times recently but it does not compare to the old man in this song. Even though this man’s tale might be true or fake I can always turn to this song and open my heart to it and feel the pain and emotional fear through the tale.
    Always and Forever
    ~Christa Joy

  43. Raven
    February 15, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Craig isnt saying that death is an escape or that he wont care about anything else again(as 9513 claims)he is saying that the tornado wasnt the worst thing to happen,he could easily replace the house it was just an object.he was saying that losing his loved ones was worth being upset about,they were not replaceable.

  44. Timmy Tommy
    February 15, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Whatever Craig is saying, not too many radios are playing him! People aren’t renewing their memberships to the Redneck Yacht Club!

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