In a statement released last week, the hunky country singer complained that Curb--McGraw's only label since his debut in 1993--ignored his plea to wait until he completed an album of all-new material that he's reportedly been working on for over a year, and instead opted to unveil a third volume of hits so as to "extend his recording contract term."
"Sure, I love the songs and I don't want to take anything away from all the creative people who were part of making those records," said McGraw on his website (www.timmgraw.com). "But the whole concept is an embarrassment to me as an artist. In the spirit of the election year, I would simply say to my fans, 'I'm Tim McGraw and I don't approve their message.'"
Of course, McGraw does seem to have spent some time of late doing some things besides getting his new album finished--namely, co-authoring (with Tom Douglas) My Little Girl, a children's book to be published on October 21. Dedicated, or rather, "devoted" to McGraw's three daughters Maggie (10), Gracie (11), and Audrey (7 in early December) as well as wife Faith Hill, this "interactive flipbook" tells the story of a busy father who promises his little girl "a special day, a "better than 'chocolate ice cream with sprinkles' kind of day!" (We don't want to give the plot away, but suffice it to say it involves enjoying the simple things in life, like clouds.)
By the way, McGraw will also find the time to stop by a bookstore in New York on Wednesday evening and sign copies of the book--a limit of two per customer, and be aware that "no other items" will be autographed. Presumably, then, this whole Greatest Hits thing hasn't sent him into any kind of "embarrassed artist"-related seclusion.
In any event, there are a couple of ways to react to the Curb-McGraw controversy. First of all, if the company owns the rights to his recordings (I'm assuming they do), then they most likely also have the right to reissue, repackage, reconfigure, or re- whatever they darn well want to do with material once they've paid for it. That's kind of what record companies do to make money: put out product they hope will sell. And maybe, just maybe, the label wasn't so happy that the new album McGraw's been spending their good money recording for over a year now wasn't ready yet, and so decided that a new hits package might not be a bad commercial idea during the holiday season.
Second, and perhaps more significant, is the question of McGraw saying that "the whole concept is an embarrassment to me as an artist." Forgive me an ounce of cynicism, but Tim McGraw citing any real or imagined damage to his artistic "integrity" because of Curb's actions is about as viable as, say, if his wife Faith Hill sent out a press release complaining that a new makeup ad made her look less than completely beautiful. As it stands, Curb's 12-track Greatest Hits Vol. 3 album includes music dating back only to 1995, includes McGraw's current single, "Let It Go," and features two tracks not previously released on any of McGraw's albums: "Find Out Who Your Friends Are" with Tracy Lawrence & Kenny Chesney, and "Nine Lives" with the rock group Def Leppard.
Quite an affront to his artistic integrity, you think?
- Tim McGraw