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Keep Houston Press Free
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Lonesome Onry and Mean: Tim McGraw Takes On His Label

Lesson: Never hit a woman in front of Tim McGraw.

Tim McGraw is learning a lesson the Beat Farmers learned long ago: Curb Records plays hardball. A perennial hitmaker and major concert act, McGraw is perturbed that Curb ignored his desires to release an album of new material and is instead issuing a third greatest-hits package. The label has only released one album of new McGraw material since the previous compilation.

For its part, Curb is milking a franchise cash cow one more time before releasing McGraw’s new material. McGraw needs new material, new radio hits and country music television exposure to maintain his visibility and viability. Given the state of artist/label relations, Curb's next release of new McGraw material may well be its last.

For a major Nashville country star, McGraw took it to the streets with a smartly crafted, openly combative press statement aimed at his fans, at one point saying, “I had no involvement in the creation or presentation of this record. The whole concept is an embarrassment to me as an artist. In the spirit of an election year, I would simply say to my fans, ‘I’m Tim McGraw and I don’t approve their message.’””

The Beat Farmers saw their career dry up when they got crossways with Curb in the late 80s. Two Curb releases established the Farmers as West Coast purveyors of cowpunk. They actually, unbelieveably, played at the Country Music Association 1988 awards show in Washington, D.C..

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The last - and probably only - band to play a Lou Reed song at the CMAs, the Farmers couldn’t get past security at today's CMAs today any more than Veterans Against the War can meet with John McCain. Check out the video below and see if it’s possible McGraw stole his hat look from Country Dick Montana.

The Beat Farmers literally withered on the vine before they could end their legal troubles with Curb. When they finally released Viking Lullabies in 1994 on Austin’s Sector 2 Records, their moment had passed. The next year, Montana had one of the most rock and roll deaths in history when he collapsed onstage at a gig in British Columbia, dead of a heart attack before he hit the floor.

The Farmers had only completed two albums of a seven-record deal with Curb. Surely McGraw has better lawyers than they did, though. - William Michael Smith

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