Tim McGraw’s Not A Moment Too Soon Takes Its Place As BORN Country’s First Album Essential
Welcome to the debut edition of BORN Country’s newest feature, Album Essentials! Here, we will discuss some of the most iconic country music albums of the 90’s. These are albums that should be on the shelves of any true 90’s country fan and have stood the test of time. Each album will include songs that not only made incredible radio hits, but we will also dive into the lesser known album cuts that never made it into the country music charts.
Our first Album Essential is Tim McGraw’s Not A Moment Too Soon, which was released in March of 1994. This would be McGraw’s second studio album, following a self-titled release in 1993. The previous record found little to no success on the country music charts, which in today’s world, would pretty much wrap up a recording career very quickly. Luckily for us though, McGraw received a second chance and never looked back!
To date, Not A Moment Too Soon has become certified 6x Platinum, meaning that over six million copies of the album have been sold. Not too shabby, Tim! From party favorites like “Indian Outlaw” and “Down On The Farm” to classic love songs in “Not A Moment Too Soon” and “Don’t Take The Girl,” McGraw’s sophomore offering has it all to be our first Album Essential. Join us now as we take a look back at this incredible record and its accompanying music videos.
Indian Outlaw (Chart Peak: #8) – Writers: Tommy Barnes, “Jumpin'” Gene Simmons, John D. Loudermilk
This is where it all truly started. Sure. McGraw released a handful of singles prior to “Indian Outlaw,” but none of them really saw any success on the country music charts. In January of 1994, “Indian Outlaw” hit radio to both positive and negative feedback. The song eventually climbed to #8, however, some believed that it played too much into Native American cliches. A review from Billboard Magazine suggested that the song was “either one of the catchiest or one of the stupidest songs ever written.” In any case, this hit launched Tim McGraw towards superstar status, which he still maintains to this day.
- KISS bassist, Gene Simmons, chose his stage name in tribute to rockabilly singer an co-songwriter, “Jumpin'” Gene Simmons. “Indian Outlaw” was his final work.
- Co-Songwriter, John D. Loudermilk, was best known for writing “Indian Reservation,” which became a hit for Paul Revere & The Raiders in 1971. The line “Cherokee People, Cherokee Tribe, so proud to live, so proud to die” was taken from said song for “Indian Outlaw.”
Don’t Take The Girl (Chart Peak: #1) – Writers: Craig Martin, Larry W. Johnson
If “Indian Outlaw” brought Tim McGraw to the dance, 1994’s “Don’t Take The Girl” solidified his spot. The “story song” plays a large role in the history of country music, and McGraw’s second single from Not A Moment Too Soon proved that such a song could still exist on country radio in the mid-90’s. Following the relationship of a boy and a girl from childhood, through courtship and finally childbirth and possibleloss of a loved one*, “Don’t Take The Girl” is easily one of the most tearjerking songs in the history of the genre. This Tim McGraw classic debuted at #71 on Billboard’s country music chart, but would climb to #1 on May 28th of 1994.
- *While many do assume that Johnny’s wife dies in childbirth, it is revealed in the official music video that she survives.
- Country music parodist, Cletus T. Judd, released a parody song titled “Please Take The Girl,” on his debut album, Cletus T. Judd (No Relation).
Down On The Farm (Chart Peak: #2) – Writers: Jerry Laseter, Kerry Kurt Phillips
The third single released from Not A Moment Too Soon, “Down On The Farm,” is always a crowd pleaser to this day during McGraw’s live shows. This is a case in which a great 90’s country song could probably still do very well on the radio if released today. It could fit in quite well with all of the songs about dirt roads and tailgating, etc., while still having that great 90’s feel as well. The song was released to radio in July of 1994, making it the perfect summertime hit for all of those country boys and girls who were looking for a backwoods party soundtrack.
- Sherman Halsey directed the majority of Tim McGraw’s music videos throughout his career. From “Indian Outlaw” in 1994 to “One Of Those Nights” in 2012, Halsey is credited as directing McGraw 29 times.
Not A Moment Too Soon (Chart Peak: #1) – Writers: Wayne Perry, Joe Barnhill
The title track to Tim McGraw’s sophomore album hit country radio in October of 1994. “Not A Moment Too Soon” would become his second #1 Billboard hit a few months later in January of 1995. Strangely, despite being a huge single for McGraw, the song was left off of his first Greatest Hits release in 2000, but would later be added to his second compilation package in 2006.
- “Not A Moment Too Soon” was preceded at the #1 spot by Joe Diffie’s “Pickup Man” and was topped by Alan Jackson’s “Gone Country” after a week on top of the Billboard Hot Country Chart.
- The music video was filmed at the Battery Point Lighthouse in Crescent City, California.
Refried Dreams (Chart Peak: #5) – Writers: Mark Petersen, Jim Foster
The final single from Tim McGraw’s Not A Moment Too Soon, “Refried Dreams,” is hands down one of my absolute favorite songs from the country superstar. Though I was in 5th or 6th grade when I first heard the song, I recall immediately getting a kick out of the refried beans wordplay, which ties into a longtime songwriting technique in country music. Certainly, I had no idea what tequila was at the time, along with a handful of other references, but it didn’t matter. To this day, I don’t believe “Refried Dreams” gets the attention that it deserves in McGraw’s overall catalog, but with so many #1 hits over the course of his career, I understand how it could be lost in the shuffle.
The remaining five songs from Not A Moment Too Soon are some strong examples that even though a song doesn’t make it to radio, they can still be great tracks. The album kicks off with “It Doesn’t Get Any Countrier Than This” (Jerry Vandiver, Randy Archer). Like the above mentioned “Down On The Farm,” “Countrier Than This” could very well fit into today’s country music scene with no problem.
The second track on Not A Moment Too Soon, “Give It To Me Strait” (Reese Wilson, Stephen Grauberger), shows that not only does George Strait’s music impact many artists today, but that “King George” had left his mark on emerging artists of the early 90’s as well. I hope that this edition of Album Essentials brings some much deserved attention to this track specifically. It’s an absolute best and deserves to be heard by those folks who may have discovered Tim McGraw later on in his career.
If listening to Not A Moment Too Soon from beginning to end, there are three songs before you reach a radio hit. Upon my listening to “Wouldn’t Want It Any Other Way” (Ed Hill, David Frasier) again in preparation for writing this article, I strongly believe that if one were to play this record from the beginning for the first time, it would be hard to distinguish which songs were hits and which were never released to radio. That’s how good this entire album is!
Not A Moment Too Soon wraps up with two songs titled “40 Days And 40 Nights,” (Tommy Barnes) and “Ain’t That Just Like A Dream” (Tony Mullins, Stan Munsey). Along with everything mentioned above, it’s hard to really understand how particular songs were pulled from the album for radio. At this point, the songs that WERE major hits are easy to separate from the rest of the tracks. Back in 1994, however, when all ten of these recordings were on a level playing field, I can’t imagine being the one to decide which songs would be released as singles!
Not A Moment Too Soon would reach #1 on not only Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart but also on the Billboard 200 (Overall) chart. The album would eventually land the #63 position on Billboard’s End Of Decade chart (1990-1999).