Faith Hill – “Red Umbrella”

Jim Malec | September 17th, 2007

Faith Hill The latest single from Faith’s The Hits package is a supercharged up-tempo that strictly adheres to the following Nashville Songwriters credo: “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus.”

The song’s verses blow by at breakneck pace, which is a good thing, considering the fact that “Red Umbrella” has some of the most random and generally incogitative lyrics I’ve ever heard. Life is getting dark, the song says, but you can break away. Then there’s something about chains. And don’t forget to put your tears in a bottle made of gold. Or…wait…are we talking about God’s tears? Because sometimes God has to cry too, you know.

Your love is like a red umbrella/Walk the streets like Cinderella/Everyone can see it on my face.”

What?!?

Faith is an excellent studio vocalist, and she sounds great, as is almost always the case. And there are musical hooks a-plenty here–the chorus is so infectious that it’s almost impossible not to sing along…even if you’re not entirely sure what the hell you’re singing about.

Thumbs Down

Listen: Faith Hill – “Red Umbrella”

3 Pings

  1. [...] does the song “Red Umbrella” mean? Good question. - [...]
  2. [...] is the meaning of “I’m Alive” by Kenny Chesney? First off, the umbrella is obviously a metaphor for a smile. — [...]
  3. [...] is the meaning of “I’m Alive” by Kenny Chesney? First off, the umbrella is obviously a metaphor for a smile. — [...]
  1. Chris N.
    September 17, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    You can see the umbrella on her face?

  2. Kevin
    September 17, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    I love that line, “Don’t Bore Us! Get to the Chorus!” It was on the guitar picks that Per Gessle flicked out into the audience when I saw Roxette at the Beacon Theater in 1992. First concert of my life, b/c I won tix in seventh grade. They later used it as the title to their Greatest Hits CD.

    I really dig the Faith single, but I’m a big fan of frothy stuff like this. I’m sure it gives many others a toothache, headache or both!

  3. Kevin
    September 17, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    Oh, and this is the second single from “The Hits.” “Lost” was the first one. They’re throwing in “I Need You” also, so I guess it’s a pretty good value. They reworked the track listing to include more old hits like “Wild One” and I’m hoping they’re still including the live version of “Cry”. From what I understand, she sang it stripped down, which is a way I’ve always wanted to hear that song.

  4. Jim Malec
    September 17, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    Chris–I don’t know how I missed that obvious interpretation…

    Kevin–Thanks for the correction. “Lost” was so long ago that I forgot about it.
    I like frothy stuff too. I’m a big proponent of the idea that music can (an sometimes should) be fun.
    And, believe it or not, I kinda like this song. But I could not, in good faith (pun intended), give it a thumbs up, considering how absolutely ridiculous the lyrics are.

    I actually wonder if Brad and Brent Warren, who co-wrote this, sat down and tried to write the most nonsensical thing they could think up.

  5. Matt C.
    September 17, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    The critics on this site must be real idiots. I don’t know that “don’t blink” means that life goes by quickly and Jim doesn’t realize that “red umbrella” is a metaphor for a smile.

  6. Chris N.
    September 17, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    Like, from the side? Wouldn’t that be a frown?

  7. Jim Malec
    September 17, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    Even if that metaphor made sense…

    Your love is like a smile

    Need I say more?

  8. linda leary
    September 17, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    Faith, you go girl. Love red umbrella.
    and you too.

  9. Brady Vercher
    September 17, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    I still don’t get it :(

  10. Brody Vercher
    September 18, 2007 at 6:09 am

    If it’s a smile, then it’s an upside down red umbrella, and I’ve heard those don’t work very well.

  11. Matt C.
    September 18, 2007 at 8:08 am

    When I was in second grade, “let a smile be your umbrella” must have been what every douchebag said to a pouty kid. It made no sense to me at the time and it still makes no sense. Given the context however, I’m not exactly surprised. I don’t know what other kind of red umbrella the singer could wear on her face, unless we’re just going to go with some completely non-sensical interpretation.

  12. mfrank_
    September 18, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    there’s nothing but confusion on my face. this song looks like it was put together according to what rhymed, plain and simple. it apparently didn’t have to make sense. it just had to rhyme and have flowery words in it. very impressionistic. and very cloyingly dumb.

    fire the songwriters. they’re hacks.

  13. Paul W Dennis
    September 18, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    I’d give the song a C- – the song is sung about as well as Faith can sing a song (which really isn’t saying much) but it’s dumb lyrics make “Ticks” seem positively intellectual in comparison

  14. Dave S
    September 19, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    Didn’t the Warren Brothers write this song? I thought I read that somewhere. It wouldn’t surprise me if they did; they are a bunch of simpletons.

    On the other hand, ya’ll give Faith a break on this one. What’s she to do when her better single off of her Hits package, “Lost,” was ignored by country radio? That was a great song and yet it made little impact on the charts.

  15. Chris Lindsey
    September 20, 2007 at 10:47 pm

    All of the writers on this song(I’m one of them) have written hits with “good” lyrics.

    Red Umbrella is for your heart, not your head. If you don’t get, maybe you don’t have one.

    Chris

  16. Jim Malec
    September 21, 2007 at 12:08 am

    Chris, I’d like you to explain, since you stopped in here at the9513, what your process was when writing this song. Because you’re a good enough writer to know that the lyrics of “Red Umbrella” are ridiculous. And let’s face it–they are completely ridiculous.

    Why did you and the rest of the group choose these particular images? Why does it all seem so unrelated? And what the heck is a freakin’ red umbrella?

    Please enlighten us.

    Chris, I’ve been there. I’ve sat in on those NSAI workshops, and I’ve played those God-awful writers nights, and I’ve done the pitch sessions, and I’ve done all of these things for long enough to know that if I had written this song, I would be lucky to get it recorded by Faith Mendez from Laredo, Texas, let alone Faith Hill.

    I’m not going to hold you at fault for your success, but I am going to call a duck a duck. In this case, I’m calling it a big, ugly duck with really, really bad lyrics.

    But if you would prefer to discuss why you think my review is wrong, as opposed to just implying that I have some kind of emotional problem, that would be swell.

    Also, before I let you go, I should say that I wish I had received this much attention from the Nashville songwriting community when I was at Belmont and my publisher and I were trying to set up writing sessions. Most of the “pros” acted like I was invisible, just some random Joe Blow with delusions of stardom who wasn’t worth wearing down a set of a strings for.

  17. Chris Lindsey
    September 21, 2007 at 9:04 am

    Jim,
    I don’t usually comment on message boards that critique our work, but I felt compelled to this time because of the mean spirited things being said about my friends (my cowriters the Warrens). If you review this thread, you will find some inappropriate name calling going on… that pissed me off. This is a hard job, as I’m sure you know, and everyone doing it has sacrificed a lot to get where they’re at.

    Brad and Brett Warren are very gifted writers, “Anyway” and “If You’re Reading This” are the tip of the iceberg. In the next two years, you’re going to see their songs dominating the top-forty charts.

    Chris

  18. Chris N.
    September 21, 2007 at 9:41 am

    All that is self-evidently true, especially the part about the Warren brothers (who should have been stars themselves long ago). Nonetheless, I don’t get it.

    Your love is like a red umbrella
    Walk the streets like Cinderella
    Everyone can see it on my face

    See what on her face? The umbrella? Her love? His love? The fact that she is loved? Is the umbrella, as suggested earlier, supposed to represent a smile?

    And does every big-name songwriter in Nashville read this blog?

  19. Jim Malec
    September 21, 2007 at 10:44 am

    Chris L, I’m glad that you decided to post. I think it’s important for the audience to have some interaction with the people that actually create the music. If you ask me, that’s one of the ways we can best combat piracy–it’s easy to steal music when you think you’re stealing from a superstar who won’t notice the loss of money, or a “big, evil record company.” Most people don’t understand the revenue flow of the music industry. Most people are scarcely aware (if at all), that many songs are not written by the artists that sing them. And this is partially because the songwriting community is veiled in anonymity. Piracy becomes considerably more difficult when we understand that there is a long line of human beings who are impacted by the act. And so even though it seems like a small gesture to post a comment on a website, I think it’s an important gesture.

    As for the comments about the Warren Brothers (i.e. “hacks”)–they are wholly uncalled for, in my opinion.

    Beautiful Day In The Cold Cruel World was one of my favorite records when I was a teenager. I was blown away the first time I heard “Nowhere Fast.” To this day I find myself randomly singing that song.

    As a funny aside…have you ever asked Brad and Brent about St. Warren?

  20. Matt C.
    September 21, 2007 at 10:48 am

    This is the same issue that surfaced during our discussion of “Don’t Blink:” awesome songwriters are not immune to writing terrible songs, and the fact that a songwriter has a track record of quality and success doesn’t render a new release above criticism. Brad and Brent are great and I think that most of the comments on this thread are more sarcastic than mean-spirited. I certainly have a lot of respect for Chris Lindsey. However, I agree with Jim that this is not a good song and wouldn’t have gotten cut if not for the star power on the writing credit. If you’re willing to give us some insight into the process, Chris, I think that it would be very interesting. I guess I can’t speak for the others, but I’m certainly not questioning the ability of you or your cowriters.

  21. Dave S
    September 21, 2007 at 11:14 am

    I apologize to those offended by my labeling of the Warren Brothers as “simpletons.” The basis of my opinion was not because they might have written this song, but because I remember watching them on the CMT series “Barely Famous” (which was from about 3 years ago- I think).

  22. King Sand
    September 21, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    The critics, Jim Malec in particular, are extremely ignorant on this site. “Red Umbrella” is one of my favorite Faith Hill songs – the lyrics, especially, are very poetic, uplifting, and powerful. Jim needs to back to college, take some creative writing classes, and learn what the word “metaphor” means. Wait! He probably is one of those bitter, broke English majors right out of college, pandering on-line websites for work and recognition. What a loser!

  23. Hollerin Ben
    September 22, 2007 at 1:37 am

    King Sand – dude, you should know you have a problem when you are calling people ignorant and going to bat for the poetry of a Faith Hill song with lyrics like
    “Sometimes life can get a little dark
    I’m sure I’ve got bruises on my heart
    Here come the black clouds full of pain
    Yeah, you can break away without the chains”

    Stones and glass houses and all that bro. Near rhyming couplets about “black clouds full of pain” might uplift you and overcome you with their power and their “poetry” but for all the actual real people in the room, it look pretty damn stupid and immature.

    Chris L (and the nonpresent Warrens) – Many congrats. You have made it. You write cuts for Faith Hill records. You probably have radio hits to your credit. Why not just accept the tradeoff? You aren’t Billy Joe Shaver. Know why? You didn’t aspire to be. You write hit Faith Hill songs (read: pop country adult contemporary songs). Good for you. You are making fistfulls of cash. God Bless you. but you aren’t changing lives or making your mark on the history of country music, nor are you contributing positively to the country music tradition. You say that “Red Umbrella is for your heart, not your head”. You might as well call a spade a spade and tell us “Red Umbrella is cloyingly stupid and sentimental”.

    Your type of songwriter writes songs for money, not for Truth. You get the money, and we can’t fault you for that, but you can’t come on the 9513 and expect us to give you credit for writing the Truth as well. We have hearts, they just aren’t stupid, shallow, and immature enough to be moved by a power-pop song, written by commitee, that doesn’t bother to strive for anything deep, interesting, or unique. You’re already peddling your cliches for high dollar, get real and don’t come round asking for critical recognition. And if all this harshness and namecalling gets you too down, dude, just let you love be like a red umbrella, even though all this rain is pouring all around ya, its not gonna drown ya, cause after all, you’re gonna be ok! clown.

  24. Jim Malec
    September 22, 2007 at 1:45 am

    Yay! Another fun quote to add to my collection!

  25. Jim Malec
    September 22, 2007 at 1:51 am

    While I (very much) appreciate Ben coming to my defense, I just want to make it clear that I do not, necessarily, agree with his statements regarding whether or not current, contemporary, or “pop” country has artistic value. I think it does (or at least can).

    And my harsh statements of this song are based on that presumption–not the belief that all contemporary or pop country is inherently flawed. I want this pop country to matter and to be about truth and heart. And I am ok with it being frothy. To be honest, the medium doesn’t matter that much to me as long as I can link it back, somehow, to a country tradition.

  26. Hollerin Ben
    September 22, 2007 at 3:11 am

    Jim,

    blah blah blah mutual admiration.

    I hope that criticism of Red Umbrella did not seem genre (read: pop country ac) specific. comtemporary country can be awesome (as any country can), this just wasn’t.

  27. Dana
    September 22, 2007 at 10:41 am

    Personally, I think big name singers who don’t write their own material would serve themselves quite well if they gave no-name songwriters the same chance as well as the more well-known songwriters. Writing a good song is not just about having something to say, but it’s also understanding music and lyrics enough to go beyond four or five predictable chord progressions and standard rhymes.

    Just because someone has had success as a songwriter doesn’t mean that every song they write is a hit, and just because someone hasn’t had success as a songwriter because they haven’t met the right people yet doesn’t mean that they don’t have potential number ones in their back pocket.

    I think artists who do not write their own material should focus on finding songs that strongly showcase their talents, with lyrics that seem credible from the artist. Picking a song to record predominantly because of who wrote it is like buying an expensive designer outfit even though it makes you look fat.

  28. Paul W Dennis
    September 22, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    Actually big name singers have always given songs by the “no-name” writers a shot. Otherwise they would still be “no-names”. After all, Roger Miller took a chance on a “no-name” when he recorded “Me and Bobbie McGee”; however,you cannot blame an artist for giving first shot to those writerss who have proven to be a good fit in the past

  29. Jim Malec
    September 22, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    It’s not usually the case that writers are pitching to artists anyway.

  30. Aaron
    September 22, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    Chris didn’t answer your questions Jim
    He just evaded them by talking about how hard it is
    We all know how hard it is but once you get in you can get any cliche song cut but an aspiring songwriter cannot get away with this lyric and I think the music saves this and I don’t understand the chorus either but she makes it sounds good

  31. Aimee Mayo
    September 23, 2007 at 3:06 am

    Hi. I am Chris’ wife, Aimee Mayo also one of the writers on “Red Umbrella.” I will share where my head, my heart was at while writing this song and what it means to me. The lyrics are abstract, but so are a lot of songs I love… “Tiny Dancer,” “Levon,” “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” “Strawberry Fields Forever.” In my mind this song is about my friend Regina who had a rough year fighting breast cancer, after her chemo she found out she had to have radiation for 3 months. Regina and I had a long conversation the night before the song “Red Umbrella” was written. The lyrics “Sometimes life can get a little dark- I’m sure I’ve got bruises on my heart-Here come the black clouds full of pain- You can’t break away with out the chains”
    This is talking about going through something painful and “Red Umbrella” is a metaphor for friends, a smile, love- anything that pulls you through. The chorus- “let it Rain-it’s pouring all around me, let it fall -it ain’t gonna drown me” is basically saying … bring it on, I can take it and I will get through it.
    Everybody has an opinion and I don’t really care if you think the song is good or bad, it is special to me because it was for my friend. I probably will not be back on here to post anymore comments, I just wanted to add my thoughts.
    P.S. Hollerin Ben – You sound like a jaded and miserable guy. i don’t understand why you would say such mean spirited things about people you know nothing about. “Red Umbrella” is one song, I’ve had over 200 songs recorded by a variety of artists. “A critic is a man who knows the way but can’t drive the car.”

  32. Jim Malec
    September 23, 2007 at 11:04 am

    Hey Aimee. Nice of you to stop in and share some thoughts on the process behind this song. I’m sorry that your friend had to deal with something so difficult.

    I know that songs can have special meaning to the people who create them. They can be like our children. I know this first-hand, because I live it. It’s great that there’s so much emotion behind the art.

    The problem, I think, is that, unfortunately, we, the writer of the song, don’t get to go along with our work and explain it. It has to hold up on its own artist merit. And I just don’t think “Red Umbrella” does.

    Comparing this to “Tiny Dancer” is probably a bit off base. “Tiny Dancer” has a narrative arc, and its images, although abstract in some cases, are closely tied together.

    If you didn’t know the story behind “Red Umbbrella”–if it wasn’t personal to you, how would you think of it? If I sat down in your living room and played this for you, would you “get it”? Would you see any kind of arc? You and Chris seem to think we’re supposed to know what this is about, but all we have to go on is the text (lyric).

    And the truth is (I don’t think any of the writers can deny this), that the lyrics are meandering and cliche. “I’ve got bruises on my heart,” might be TRUE, and it might be exactly what you wanted to say, but it’s been said so many times that same way. As far as the “rain” image–there’s an entire song about that (“Bring On The Rain”).

    Aimee, you’re a great writer. That goes without saying. Nothing I ever write is meant as a personal attack on the ability of writer (unless I make that obvious).

    But if you write a dud, I’m going to call you out, the same way that everyone in Nashville would call me out if I wrote a dud (and let’s face it, I’ve written a lot of them). That’s the function of a critic–to serve as a filtering mechanism, and, I think, to challenge you to do better.

  33. Robert George
    September 23, 2007 at 11:22 am

    Aimee, thanks for posting. I by no means think Red Umbrella is a bad song. I do think the lyric is very weak. I love abstract lyrics and the fault of Red Umbrella isn’t that it’s abstract…it’s that the imagery isn’t very good. It needs at least one really strong, memorable idea to be compared with Strawberry Fields or Tiny Dancer. further, those songs have one thing RU doesn’t…a timeless melody. I believe that’s the thing(plus the arangement) that makes Strawberry Fields. Vss 2 and 3 of that song aren’t any better than RU.

    I’m not a critic I’m a writer and have little patience for song critics myself. The only thing that can settle the argument of whether Red Umbrella is well written is time. If, after the video has slipped off CMT and the photo shoots of Faith are off the Redbook covers…if in two years people still get a shiver through their memories when RU is played like they do when Strawberry Fields is played…it’s a good song. otherwise it’s just a check. One I could sure use myself. :)

  34. Dave S
    September 23, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    Jim-

    You have truly handled yourself well regarding this matter. You stuck by your opinion and your job as a critic, as you should have. I don’t think anyone intended to hurt the writers of “Red Umbrella,” nor the singer, by sharing their opinions.

    I have done my share of research on the writers who came here to call you out on your review of “Red Umbrella,” and they are quite accomplished individuals. When established writers like Chris and Aimee come here to comment, it’s probably a big deal for you guys at The 9513. However, you remained very professional in your rebuttle to Mr. Lindsey and Ms. Mayo and represented your website well in front of your audience and the mentioned writers.

  35. Chris Lindsey
    September 23, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    Hollerrin’ Ben,

    Wether or not I write for “money” or “truth” is a childish misconception about songwriting. The truth is… most writers write for both.

    You must play in some band in Texas that refuses to “sell out”. I write from my heart, and when I’m done I pray to God that it sells out. I hope they sell out at Target and have to order more. I hope that every seat at the concert sells out and they have to ad another show because I want people to hear my music.

    Here’s is a link to my myspace page http://www.myspace.com/moonscarmusic

    See if you think my songs are stupid, shallow or immature…

    P.S. did you call me a clown? If you did, I’d advise you not to call me anything that you wouldn’t say right to my face.

    Chris

  36. Brody Vercher
    September 23, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    “When established writers like Chris and Aimee come here to comment, it’s probably a big deal for you guys at The 9513.”

    I’ll admit it is kind of cool, but despite how cheesy it sounds, when all is said and done I’m much more excited about the readers who choose to come back day after day to share their opinions.

  37. Brady Vercher
    September 23, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    First off, I’d like to say that it’s great that these comments are serving as a forum for open dialog between fans, critics, and songwriters alike. With that said, let’s try to keep things civil without the needless posturing.

    Every songwriter that stops by mentions that they’ve written “good” lyrics on “hundreds” of songs that have gone on to become hits, like it is some sort of validation for the song in question. Having credits on hit songs does not automatically exclude a songwriter from writing mediocre lyrics or absolute duds. In the case of “Red Umbrella,” the lyrics are so esoteric that they become meaningless-like listening to music in a language you don’t understand.

    Thanks for sharing the “story behind the song” with us Aimee. I enjoy learning the events that inspired certain songs to be written, and I’m sincerely sorry for what your friend has had to endure.

  38. Funk
    September 23, 2007 at 10:33 pm

    Seems like a good time to quote Big WhateverhisnameisKennyIthink.

    “Love Everybody.”

    Cheezy? You bet. At the same time, hard to argue with as words to live by. Probably more people have seen those words on the back of a guitar than any of the words written by Proust or Dickinson.

    All said, they’re just words. You like ‘em or you don’t. They are meaningful to you or not. We’ll know in five years, not now.

  39. Funk
    September 23, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    I probably was a bit brief in my last post, given all the discussion on “Don’t Blink” as done by KC. “Don’t Blink” is as cheezy on some levels as “Love Everybody.” These are slogans and a well crafted slogan lives on for ages. It distills some complex ideas into a few words we can carry around to instantly bring it all back. (Isn’t this the beauty of much of Country Music?) I’ve seen many notes handed around in the past few weeks that say simply, “Don’t Blink.” People get it. Same with “Love Everybody.” I don’t think Red Umbrella lives up to those marks, but there’s nothing wrong with giving it a shot.

  40. Chris N.
    September 24, 2007 at 8:59 am

    “Every songwriter that stops by mentions that they’ve written ‘good’ lyrics on ‘hundreds’ of songs that have gone on to become hits, like it is some sort of validation for the song in question.”

    I’d just like to second this. As a journalist, if I write a bad story the 1,000 good stories I’ve written don’t make the bad one any better. I can’t hover over the reader and say, “But this can’t suck! I’ve written 1,000 good stories!”

    I’d also like to address Aimee’s point about lyrical abstraction. There’s a reason the lyrics she cites are pop songs — because contemporary country radio is the absolute last place one expects to hear anything approaching an abstract lyric. Country radio generally only plays songs the listener can fully comprehend the first time he or she hears it. So when one is confronted with a slightly abstract lyric from a song recorded by a contemporary country artist, confusion is a reasonable response.

  41. Brody Vercher
    September 24, 2007 at 10:00 am

    I write hundreds of bad stories in hopes that maybe one will be good…

  42. Hollerin Ben
    September 24, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Mr. and Mrs. Lindsey

    I think its cool that you are coming on the9513.com and interacting with fans. As was mentioned before, I think that blogs like this promote music, and having interaction with songwriters and such will entice more people to check out the blogs and more music will be promoted, which is a good thing.

    That being said, I’m surprised at your reactions to our critiques. Are you just sitting around the house, reading this and saying “how dare that guy say our near rhyming couplets about “clounds of pain” and “bruised hearts” are cliche, boring, shallow, and stupid??? How many hit songs has that guy written huh? Doesn’t he know that this song isn’t for your head, it’s for your heart! I bet he doesn’t even have a heart! Oh the fool, trying to draw anything deep or meaningful from the words and ideas in my song! His refusal to bask stupidly in the syrupy sweetness of the sentiment, to simply hear the song and say to himself ‘ya know what, no matter what horrible inequities, suffering, or tragedy comes my way, it’s all gonna be ok, after all I heard it in a Faith Hill song that had a very catchy prechorus, followed by a very sweeping chorus that let Faith belt notes at key points. god bless the courageous songwriters who told me it would be ok in such a superfically compelling way!’”

    Aimee, you think I must be jaded and miserable for being offput by the superficiality of your song, does that make you naive and delusional? Can you not see how presenting something that is so shallow as an answer to feelings that are so deep is an affront to personhood? I’m sorry to hear about your friend, and I hope she’s doing well, but knowing that something so important (her struggle with cancer) inspired something so flippant only makes it more offensive.

    Also, fyi, “Tiny Dancer,” “Levon,” “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” are not country songs. You may respond “so what?”. So, its apples and oranges that’s what (unless you happily concede that you don’t write country music, that you write pop adult contemporary, in which case, more power to you, have at it, catchy, silly, and disposable is the name of the game for that stuff). I think that even the most cursory look at country music reveals that it values clarity and simplicity, which makes it’s sophistication all the more impressive. Unfortunately, what has happened here (as with many contemporary country songs)is that the songwriters have conflated simplicity with stupidity or emotional immaturity and they have foregone clarity in order to be less like Hank Williams and more like Elton John and the result is something like Red Umbrella, a power pop song that takes itself as seriously as classic country songs, yet has lyrics that are something like a dumbed down pop song.

    Chris, I checked out the myspace. The stuff is certainly different than Red Umbrella, but its seriously not country music at all, which is fine I guess, but since I’m a country music fan, it’s not much a “gotcha” moment for you. If you want my evaluation of it, which you probably don’t, I’d say it fell victim to what a lot of pop-rock falls victim to; its pretentious, boring, and sanctifies emotion in an offputting way. In other words, it doesn’t have any shame. Which is par for the course genre wise, and as far as I could tell yours doesn’t stand out in a bad way, and if I had a more comprehensive background in pop-rock I may find your stuff quite good, but if you compare it to country music, and a country basis of evaluation, it sucks.

    also, point of fact, I’m not in a struggling Texas band and the reason for my critiques are not just sour grapes. I feel that whereas we (the “critics” so to speak) have been very substantive, your rebuttles have been all ad hominems and straw men. And dude, even if I was in a Texas band, it would be kind of a jerk move to be like “your texas band doesn’t sell a bunch of records, so your opinion is automatically meaningless no matter how persuasive or substantive your arguments are” and you aren’t a jerk, are you?

    oh, and this little gem, “P.S. did you call me a clown? If you did, I’d advise you not to call me anything that you wouldn’t say right to my face.”, seriously man? and this sort of grandiose hot air blowing is supposed to discourage me from holding the opinion that you are ridiculous and amusing?

  43. Eb
    September 25, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    Well, gee, I guess this is where I need to be to learn about writing songs. I shouldn’t listen to Aimee and Chris though because most of you guys think they don’t know as much about as you do. That is hilarious!!! A song recorded by a major artist by writers who have proven themselves more than once and you guys are telling them they can’t write. Good grief!

  44. Jim Malec
    September 25, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    EB–I’d like you to quote anyone from The 9513 who said that “they can’t write.”

    This is NOT where you need to be to learn about writing songs. You need to be in Nashville working your ass off everyday. That’s what you need to do if you really want to get better. Unfortunately, that’s a commitment that 99% of the “I wish I was” crowd is unwilling to make.

  45. Brady Vercher
    September 25, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    Well, gee, Eb, I didn’t realize writing songs covered by major artists rendered an individual immune to churning out ridiculous lyrics every once in awhile. Please tell us what makes this song so great as to place it beyond reproach.

    Also, no one has claimed to know more about songwriting than Aimee and Chris, in fact, I think most everyone here respects what they’ve been able to accomplish. At the same time, there’s nothing wrong with calling a spade a spade, and the truth is, this song just ain’t that great.

  46. Aaron
    September 25, 2007 at 7:54 pm

    I was looking through Aimee’s songs that had got cut
    Lonestar – Amazed, Faith Hill & Tim Mcgraw – Lets make love, those are a few cliche songs albeit with big success then there are songs written by her that I like
    Seems to me like nashville likes cliche songs.. am I wrong?

  47. Chris Lindsey
    September 25, 2007 at 8:19 pm

    Ben,

    Let me try to clarify my postion here… I respect your right to criticize “Red Umbrella”. I respect anyone’s right to criticize any song.

    Other than trying to point out that all lyrics don’t have to be methodically planned out like rivets on a tin roof, I have resisted any urge to defend this song. You don’t like the song. It’s ok with me. Lots of other people do like the song… that’s ok with me too. I think it goes without saying that I would disagree with the negative comments on this site about my song.

    What I have really been trying to say to you is that you’re out of line with your wild accusations about my motivations for writing. We have never met, you don’t know me and there’s no way you could know why I do what I do. Secondly, the name calling and personal bashing are just rude and unprofessional. They dilute the relevance of this dialogue.

    I think the discussion about the evolution of country music is very interesting. I think there has been some good and some bad pop-country songs… I also think that tradtional country is often boring and formulic. I think Billy Joe Shaver is great, but I’m not mad that the rest of the world doesn’t get it. On the other hand, Springsteen and Niel Young have both had huge commercial success with very little aparrent compromise…. it’s all hard to figure…

    Chris

  48. Hollerin Ben
    September 25, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    well thats a fair response if I’ve ever heard one.

    I’ll concede that you are correct, I can speculate about your motivations, but I absolutely cannot say for sure. Apparently I was wrong about why you do what you do, and I stand corrected with apologies.

    to be fair though, you did not begin the discussion by establishing a right to analyze the song. Your first reponse was a hard defense of the song via a personal attack, the whole “maybe you don’t have a heart” thing. The tone of this whole dialogue was not especially polite or professional, but I would argue that it was you who set the tone, not us.

    Obviously you and I don’t see eye to eye on what country music should be Chris, which is fine, but I appreciate the fairminded response here, and I definitely appreciate you engaging us in dialogue in the first place. As was talked about before, I think that honest, serious interaction between songwriters and country music fans is a win/win situation but I know that it is probably not especially enjoyable for the songwriter all the time.

    Take it easy and best of luck on the success of the single.

  49. Jim Malec
    September 25, 2007 at 10:10 pm

    I agree with Chris that quite a bit of “traditional” country is terribad. There are many people who cling tightly to the idea that “older is better,” but I just think much of that attitude is rooted in nostalgia. If you listen critically to some of those songs–a lot of those songs, in fact–they are, as he said, formulaic. Even those by some of the “great” writers.

    The thing that bugs me about so much of the contemporary country I hear these days is that it seems to play heavily to the casual listener, as well as to general idea that the population (the audience) as a whole isn’t that smart. So many songs are just so mind numbingly simple and/or cheesy. If you ask me, this trend actually goes beyond anything that pop did, lyrically, as a genre.

    When I hear, “I’m Watchin’ You,” for instance, I just want to bang my head against a wall. Aside from the fact that it seems like about 25% of contemporary country (on the radio) beats me over the head with Jesus imagery, the entire way that song (in particular, but as an example) is phrased encourages a shallowness of thought–in that it fails to challenge us to explore what we’re feeling in any true depth.

    It’s a topical emotional reaction–if I has a young child, and he cursed, of course I’d feel guilty about it.

    And I wish country music would try a little harder to get past those, “of course” moments. Either that or allow the songs to just be light and frothy and fun, without trying to preach some moral lesson.

    The problem is, and I really believe this, that the radio format as a whole has experienced a dumbing-down over the past 15-20 years. The thing that radio fears the most is people changing the channel, and in a quest to deliver the largest audience to their advertisers, they are going to, as a whole, program music that is safe and generally unobjectionable.

    The result is these cute little story songs.

    And I guess the question I have is this: should the creators of the music let the desires of radio dictate the direction of the genre.

    It’s a difficult question, and it’s one of the reasons I struggled while I was in Nashville. If you’re not a killer artist, you’ve got to write commercially viable songs, or you’re never going to get anywhere.

    But this is all aside from Red Umbrella. I’ll just close by saying that my criticism of this song (which, as I noted, I actually, kinda, sorta, maybe, like), is rooted in the fact that it makes absolutely no sense–literally or metaphorically, and I expect more from writers are as good as the writers who have been here named.

  50. Chris Lindsey
    September 25, 2007 at 11:54 pm

    Jim… I undserstand what you are saying. The question might be… are you the end-user of this genre? Is it aimed at you? If you drink red wine long enough, your palate changes , you develop an appreciation for complex and intense flavors. If you don’t drink much wine you go for Boones Farm.
    For me, it’s not a judgement issue, people have different tastes. Some of these songs you mention are a subtile as a brick thru a bank window, but a huge portion of the country market loves the crap out of them.

    Chris

  51. Matt C
    September 26, 2007 at 12:26 am

    We seem to get into a lot of these discussions on The 9513, most recently on the Decline of Country Radio article. I agree with what both Chris and Jim are saying. A lot of modern country is aimed at people who listen to the radio while they commute and might have it playing in the background at work. They hear a catchy melody or a lyric that jives with an experience they had, identify with the song briefly, and then discard it. Most current country hits are not made for serious music listeners, let alone critics. I’ve had an idea bouncing around in my head for awhile to write an article about exactly what role songwriters have played in this trend, and it might turn into an interesting discussion if we keep getting these “celebrity” visitors.

  52. Libby
    September 26, 2007 at 9:27 am

    IMO, the writers responded because of the personal attacks (call it sarcasm if you will), not the fact they didn’t like the reviews. These attacks are the very reason I seldom post anywhere, although I read quite a bit.

    Matt C, you think music should be made first for critics and serious music listeners? Not everyone has the time and/or talent to critique songs. It’s just good music if you can hear it in your soul. That will be different for everyone.

    The topic of country music falls into the same category as religion and politics. I don’t think anyone is going to be changing anyone elses mind. AND, I would be pleasantly surprised if such a discussion along these lines could be held without it getting extremely ugly.

    While I respect the opinions out there that today’s country music isn’t up to snuff, I do tend to take it personal when, as a listener to today’s country radio, that would make me “shallow”, etc.

  53. antonio
    September 26, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    oh, please. you’d think israel just invaded palestine by reading this thread. contrary to what some songwriters think, the sun does not rise and shine out of their own ass. their musings while sitting in traffic (“OOH!! OOH!! THAT’S A GREAT LYRIC I JUST READ ON A LIQUOR AD!! I’LL BRING THAT UP AT MY NEXT SONGWRITING COMMITTEE MEETING!!”) don’t really shake the world up. let’s get some perspective.

    hacks? i don’t take that back. grow a skin.
    rub a little gravel in it and it won’t hurt so bad next time. :)

    ‘pour some sugar on me’ in the same category as ‘tiny dancer’? on what planet? really?

    so what if you’ve written great songs that have been recorded by superific singers and they turn out to be hit monster tunes? that’s doesn’t mean ‘red umbrella’ is a masterpiece. bob dylan wrote ‘the times they are a’changin’ AND a piece of drivel called ‘if dogs run free’. sample lyric: ‘if dogs run free, why not we?’ BOB DYLAN WROTE THAT. it’s…well, not great.

    meh.

    ‘market’. ‘gender-driven’. ‘target audience’. insert nashville-isms here.

    and who knows? i could actually be an executive somewhere in this town. :)

  54. Dana
    September 26, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    I just want to say to the songwriters that I am a fan of your careers and your work. Not all of your songs have been or will be Red Umbrella. I am thankful that you took the time to post the story behind the music because that brings a lot of clarity to the song when you’re listening to it for a second time. I will always adore Faith Hill, so I can see why she would choose this song based on its history.

    I am in awe of the songwriters who manage to make it big in Nashville and write for major artists. As a music teacher and songwriter in Georgia, I have had some success, but as one poster put it, unless you’re in Nashville giving it 110%, then you’re really not a die hard songwriter.

    If the songwriters of “Red Umbrella” would like to critique my work (or anyone else for that matter), please check out my myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/danalamboriginals. Although they are not true-to-form country songs, “You Should Dream” has gotten play all over the country and most especially in Nashville, and “Until You Come Home” is also starting to build up steam as well here in the Southeast.

    Thanks for the 9513 and the forum to appreciate so many opinions. What should be celebrated is the collective passion for music and those who create it. Peace!

  55. Brigitte London
    September 26, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    Jim Malec, you just may be my favorite new person. I came on to invite you guys to an event, and got caught up in reading posts. I probably should refrain from posting myself, but I do alot of things I shouldn’t do.

    I know writers in Nashville that make appointments and write every line with the publisher’s opinion in mind. I also know writers here who write with their gut and soul and bleed out their lyrics. There are a lot of amazing writers here mixed in with a lot of ass kissers who care more about being “sucessful” then being honest in their art.

    I personally daydream of the destruction of pitch machines and flip flops.

    The good news is that this is America and people can do what they want, say what they want and write what they want.

    But..
    Did a country music writer really list “Pour Some Sugar On Me” as inspiration??????

    Now I know why I drink. Maybe i need a smile. or a freakin red umbrella.

  56. Thiskiss
    September 27, 2007 at 6:59 am

    I think Red Umbreall is very up-beat and makes you want to be happy and free. Faith Hill has away of doing that with her music. She feels what she is singing and makes the listeners feel it too.

  57. mfrank
    September 27, 2007 at 7:04 am

    yes, someone actually listed ‘pour some sugar on me’ as an inspiration. i prefer the lyrics ‘pour some acid on me’. just thinking of joe elliott singing those lyrics brings a smile to my face.

  58. Chris N.
    September 27, 2007 at 8:51 am

    “Maybe i need a smile. or a freakin red umbrella.”

    But a red umbrella is a smile. Or isn’t it? I am still not clear on this point.

  59. Brady Vercher
    September 27, 2007 at 9:35 am

    Here’s how Aimee explained it: “This is talking about going through something painful and ‘Red Umbrella’ is a metaphor for friends, a smile, love- anything that pulls you through.

  60. mfrank_
    September 27, 2007 at 10:28 am

    vodka is my red umbrella. i think i know what i mean by that.

  61. Tanya
    October 4, 2007 at 11:37 am

    Well, I’m a fan of Faiths and I love this new song for the simple fact that anything Faith sings is a blessing to my ears. The song is up beat, catchy and fun to sing.
    After reading this I see that some people are critical of the song because they don’t understand the meaning.
    The great thing about music or art is that it can be understand by many or they just don’t get it. I highly doubt that this song was written to go down as a masterpiece.
    What I took the song to mean is that when it rains you use an umbrella to shield you from the rain. Now, if you look at things metaphorical as in this song the rain is basically what life throws at you and sometimes what that is, is a hard time and the Red Umbrella can represent “Love” and that can make anyone feel better or get through difficult times. If anyone remembers the story of Cinderella she had evil step sisters and had a hard life but once she met prince charming she lived happily every after. That is what most girls want to do someday..walk the streets like Cinderella with a big smile on their face because the love the prince charming made her life better.
    Now, that’s what I got out of it but it was only after seeing the big deal about it. Before then, I just enjoyed the song because it was fun and not the same summertime beer song I keep hearing over and over again.

  62. Hollerin' Ben
    October 5, 2007 at 1:12 am

    Tanya,

    thank you for explaining this song to me. Now I understand that, like Cinderalla, I should just meet my Deus Ex Machina and live happily ever after. Now I can rely upon this song, like a Red Umbrella, to serve as a shield against any hardship(metaphorical rain) that may come my way. Everything is, and will forever be, ok (despite any clouds of pain)

  63. Chris N.
    October 5, 2007 at 8:28 am

    Oh, what does it matter? I lose every umbrella I buy anyway.

  64. Mindy
    October 5, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    I happen to LOVE Red Umbrella…It is one of the best songs I have ever heard. When I first heard it, I could tell what the writers were trying to convey. It is such a great song!!!!

  65. Joy
    October 5, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    So maybe I’m just a simple fan, but I LOVE Red Umbrella. It’s such an anthem song. “Let it RAIN!… I’m gonna be okay.” They may be words that many find shallow, but I think sometimes words in there simplest of forms are the ones that can be the most uplifting. To me the lyric, “Your Love is Like a Red Umbrella” can represent anything that you look to to give you strength or protection. Love could be the love of a friend, God, mate. It’s definitely up to the listener to derive their own meaning. If you just don’t get it, then maybe the song was just not meant for you.

    I agree with Tanya. To me this song is fun and uplifting, and I’d take this song any day over the over-played drinking songs as of late.

  66. Brody Vercher
    October 5, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    Just curious, what drinking songs are you talking about?

  67. Joy
    October 5, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    The More I Drink and All My Friends Say, are 2 songs specifically that I, personally, think are overplayed at my radio station.

  68. Amanda
    October 5, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    Chris, Amy, Brad and Brett thanks so much for this song! It is so uplifting and just makes me happy every time I hear it no matter what mood I’m in. Thanks for putting all those feelings into words that I can sing along to.

  69. Amanda
    October 5, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    Hollerin’ Ben I’m sorry that things are so rough for you that you can’t find some pure and simple joy. I hope things start getting better soon.

  70. Jim Armstrong
    November 25, 2007 at 11:00 pm

    It seems like some of you are so incredibly critical that you can’t see the information staring you right in the face…

    “Your love is like a red umbrella,
    Walk the streets like Cinderella,
    Everyone can see it on my face.”

    “love is like a red umbrella” is obviously a simile awaiting it’s explanation, which comes in “let it rain…”

    “walk the streets like Cinderella” is referring to Cinderella, duh…think of how Cinderella felt when she walked as a princess after the pain of being the housegirl to her wicked stepmother…good, right?

    Then there’s “everyone can see it on my face” which is saying she can’t hide her happyness…she’s got a strong face; therefore, she’s ready to take on whatever comes her way.

    All the clues are everywhere throughout the song…you just have to look from another perspective…

    This song explains itself wonderfully and I’m glad it’s another one out there to inpire people to move on.

Sponsors

Juli Thanki on WAMU's Bluegrass Country

Tagged In This Article

//

Current Discussion

  • Jack Hanford: For those who are interested, there is a new 90-minute documentary video about Tompall & the Glaser Brothers on DVD …
  • joe morris: how come nobody mentions his fan club which started 1950 and was called the " the penny pushers " which …
  • jane: I'm reading this article in 2013 and I've yet to hear anything from the album played on the radio.....
  • Catwandy: I guess Matt C. is eating his well-deserved crow 'bout now. Critics....gotta love 'em , bless their little hearts.
  • Ed McClendon: Saw the brothers in Greeley CO on the occasion of Tompall's 50th birthday. The show wasn't well promoted and there …
  • Roby Fox: I'm sure no one else will know, or even care about this little tidbit of trivia. "Keep Your Change" was …
  • kate wonders: Roni Stoneman is still on Hee Haw every Sunday night on RFD channel.
  • Marsha Blades: Tommy, You were so kind to me during a tough time in my life and I don't think I ever …
  • Leona Jones: I seen Chris at the Grand Ole Opry last week.. First time I have heard of him.. He rocked the …
  • Sonicjar Music: Agree with Lucas, But one thing is certain, for a song to come to existence, so many things have to …

Recently Reviewed Albums

  • Blind Boys of Alabama - Take the High Road
  • Del McCoury Band & Preservation Hall Jazz Band - American Legacies
  • Aaron Lewis - Town Line
  • Josh Kelly - Georgia Clay
  • The Gibson Brothers - Help My Brother
  • jesse-brewster_wrecking-ball
  • Lucinda Williams - Blessed
  • Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers - Hymns from the Hills