Tim McGraw – “Southern Voice”
Songwriters: Bob DiPiero and Tom Douglas
What do Hank Williams, “Number 3,” Chuck Berry, “Will” Faulkner, Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton, Rosa Parks, “Scarlett O,” Hank Aaron, Michael Jordan, Pocahontas, Jack Daniels, Tom Petty, Dr. King, Bear Bryant, Billy Graham, the Allman Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis and Charlie Daniels all have in common?
They’re all Southern, of course. That, and the fact that they make up the bulk of the lyrics to Tim McGraw’s latest single, the title cut from his upcoming, long-awaited (and probably final Curb Records) album Southern Voice.
The song details what each of these people is famous for (singing, batting, driving), binding them together by claiming that each of these activities is actually a shining example of “Southern voice.”
If this song is indicative of the best McGraw’s album has to offer, the disc would have been better left on the Curb shelf, alongside the last several BOMSHEL records.
“Southern Voice” can be condensed down to the following statement: “The South has birthed a lot of awesome people.”
The problem, of course, is that lots of geographical regions have birthed a lot of awesome people, and McGraw’s song does nothing to explain how all of these individuals influenced, or were influenced by, their particular region. Michael Jordan’s basketball skills demonstrated no particularly Southern characteristics, for example, while Tom Petty’s music is more closely associated with Heartland and Midwestern themes than Southern themes.
What we have here is a song that serves as an example of the South’s superiority complex and it’s obsession with nostalgia. How would it sound to have a Northern singer release, “Northern Voice,” citing all the great accomplishments of Northerners?
Surely, the South has a unique regional identity–it is a region more interconnected, in terms of self-identity–than most. But the idea that the achievements of Southerners are especially notable purely because of their heritage does a disservice to those individual’s legacies, as many of them went on to transcend their upbringings, along the way influencing their respective national scenes to a greater extent than their Southern homes.
At the end of this song, we have no idea what the “Southern voice” is, how it related to each of these people, or why someone would bother to make a song about it. But that’s only because, to the audience this is intended for, the answers to those questions don’t matter. If you already believe that everything Southern is “better,” you’re going to hear this and holler “hell yeah” as you revel in your storied heritage. And maybe you’ll even raise your confederate flag, missing the irony that you’re doing so as you embrace a song that name-checks Rosa Parks and Dr. King.
“Southern Voice” will be an anthem for that audience. But by releasing pandering drivel like this, McGraw is doing his best to make certain he’s never named alongside the likes of those mentioned in this song
Listen: Tim McGraw – “Southern Voice”
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