It's Friday again, and time for my Friday Song nomination. This week I'm going to backtrack slightly to mention the latest release from George Strait (the Chairman of the Board, Country music). Mr. Strait generally has no less than one song working its way up the Billboard Top 100, and this month is no exception. What is exceptional is this record's message. The song's called "She Let Herself Go," which superficially might seem to be another sad ol' country ballad. This one has a bit of love-gone-wrong in it, but steers immediately toward a happy ending. We don't know for sure who "she" is, but we do find out just how far she has let herself go: to New York City, to Vegas, to the beach, to a new adventure with a new friend. She's doin' just fine, thank ya. But what is a man doing singing this song? It's exactly what we might expect from Terri Clark or Jo Dee Messina, or maybe Reba or Martina. The fact that Mr. Strait chose this composition for himself makes this up-beat Anthem for a Modern Woman all the more compelling.
Country music is filled with songs by men whose ladies left them, and likewise by tunes from girls whose guys have done 'em wrong. It's all very familiar, even comfortable. When the man who sets the bar for male country vocalists releases a powerful work in support of women he shakes up that comfy familiarity. Strait isn't breaking any new ground here. There has been a real trend lately for established artists to tackle more difficult subjects from fresher angles. Kenny Chesney has done a superb job during the last couple years, tempering his Unkle Kracker combo with some solid social messages. It's refreshing to see Mr. 50-Number-Ones (the title of Strait's current CD) join the movement. Strait's voice lends credibility and repectability to whatever "cause" he might choose to sing about. She Let Herself Go reminds us all that life can bring us good things on the heels of bad times, whatever the circumstances. That's a good thing to remember when you feel like your own life is stuck in a bad groove on a worn-out record.
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