Martina Mariea Schiff was born on July 29, 1966 in Sharon, Kansas. She married studio engineer John McBride in 1988 and we know her as Martina McBride. She released her debut album THE TIME HAS COME in 1992. Fast forward to 2005 and she released her eighth studio album, TIMELESS (RCA). She produced this album of country and western classics. In the liner notes Marty Stuart writes: ``The language is simple. Heartfelt words wrapped in a beam of elegant twang. It`s a music that conveys the struggle of the human condition at its best and worst. Songs about love, loss, secret loves, cheating, lying, heartache, sin, sadness, redemption, whiskey stained souls, the earth, the heavens, Saturday night, Sunday morning, hope and jailhouses, played on fiddles, banjos and steel guitars”. TIMELESS peaked at #1 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums Chart and at #3 on the U.S. Billboard 200.
‘You Win Again’ was originally written and sung by Hank Williams. In fact, he recorded it the day after his divorce from Audrey. It is a sad ballad: “The news is out all over town/That you’ve been seen out runnin’ around/I know that I should leave but then/I just can’t go/You win again/This heart of mine could never see what everybody knew but me/Just trusting you was my great sin”. Dan Tyminski and Rhonda Vincent lend their talents on ‘I’ll Be There’, a honky tonk number: “Ain’t no jail tight enough to lock me/Ain’t no man big enough to stop me/I’ll be there if you ever want me by your side/So love me, if you’re ever going to love me/I never have seen a road too rough to ride”.
‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’ is the ballad of one unable to move on after the end of a romantic relationship: “Those happy hours that we once knew so long ago/Still make me blue/Oh, they say that time heals a broken heart/But time has stood still/Since we’ve been apart”. Joe South wrote the well known ‘(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden’. It helped Lynn Anderson win 1971’s CMA ‘Female Vocalist of the Year’. This country/pop gem includes these frank lines: “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden/Along with the sunshine, there’s gotta be a little rain sometime/I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden/I could sing you a tune and promise you the moon/But if that’s what it takes to hold you/I’d just as soon let you go”.
‘Today I Started Loving You Again’ is a sorrowful song: “I should have known the worst was yet to come/And the crying time for me had just begun/Today I started loving you again/And I’m right back where I’ve really always been/I got over you just long enough to let my heartache mend/Then today I started loving you again”. Loretta Lynn had a hit with ‘You Ain’t Woman Enough’ back in 1966. It’s a danceable country and western song with attitude: “Women like you, they’re a dime a dozen/You can buy them anywhere/For you to get to him, I’d have to move over and I’m gonna stand right here/It’ll be over my dead body, so get out while you can/’Cause you ain’t woman enough to take my man/No, you ain’t woman enough to take my man”.
Bill Anderson wrote ‘Once A Day’. With it, Connie Smith was the first woman in country music to score a #1 hit with her first single! It is a melodic country and western number about heartache: “When you found somebody new/I thought I never would forget you/For I thought then I never could/But time has taken all the pains away/Until now I’m down to hurtin’ once a day/Once a day all day long/And once a night from dusk till dawn/The only time I wish you weren’t gone/Is once a day, every day, all day long”. ‘Pick Me Up on Your Way Down’ is a song of longing: “Pick me up on your way down/When you’re blue and all alone/When the glamour starts to bore you/Come on back where you belong/You may be their pride and joy, but they’ll find another toy/And they’ll take away your crown/Pick me up on your way down”.
‘I Don’t Hurt Anymore’ was a #1 hit for Hank Snow in 1954. This country ballad offers hope: “No use to deny I wanted to die/The day you said we were through/But now that I find you’re out of my mind/I can’t believe that it’s true/I’ve forgotten somehow that I cared so before/And it’s wonderful now/I don’t hurt anymore”. ‘True Love Ways’ was penned by Buddy Holly and Norman Petty. Holly recorded his version in October 1958 and it was released after his death. Martina’s version is beautiful and easy listening in nature: “Just you know why/Why you and I/Will by and by/Know true love ways/Sometimes we’ll sigh, sometimes we’ll cry/And we’ll know why/Just you and I know true love ways”.
‘’Til I Can Make it on My Own’ is the song of one struggling to let go of another: “I’ll need time to get you off my mind/And I may sometimes bother you/Try to be in touch with you/Even ask too much of you from time to time/Now and then/Lord, you know I’ll need a friend/Til I get used to losin’ you/Let me keep on using you/Til I can make it on my own”. ‘I Still Miss Someone’ was written by Johnny Cash and his nephew Roy Cash Jr. Cash first recorded it on 1959’s THE FABULOUS JOHNNY CASH. On Martina’s version, Dolly Parton does a great job on harmony vocals. It’s a great country ballad: “I go out to a party and look for a little fun/But I find a darkened corner/Because I still miss someone/Oh, I never got over those blue eyes/I see them everywhere/I miss those arms that held me/When all the love was there”.
Dwight Yoakam sings harmony vocals on the pretty, but sad ‘Heartaches By the Number’. It begins: “Heartache number 1 was when you left me/I never knew that I could hurt this way/And heartache number 2/Was when you come back again/You came back and never meant to stay/Now I’ve got heartaches by the number, troubles by the score/Every day you love me less/Every day I love you more”. ‘Satin Sheets’ was authored by factory worker John Volinkaty. Jeanne Pruett had a #1 hit with it in 1973. This country ballad finds a woman opening up: “I’ve found another man who can give more than you can/Though you’ve given me everything money can buy/But your money can’t hold me tight like he does on a long, long night/And no, you didn’t keep me satisfied”.
Next up is ‘Thanks A Lot’ which in 1963 was Ernest Tubbs’ last of 58 Top Ten hits! This toe-tapper could lyrically be the theme song for Martina’s album: “Thanks, thanks a lot/I got a broken heart/That’s all I’ve got/You made me cry, I cried a lot/I lost your love/Baby, thanks a lot”. Another toe-tapper follows, ‘Love’s Gonna Live Here’. Refreshingly, it is a joyful song: “Oh, the sun’s gonna shine in my life once more/Love’s gonna live here again/Things are gonna be the way they were before/Love’s gonna live here again/Love’s gonna live here (2X)/Love’s gonna live here again/No more loneliness, only happiness/Love’s gonna live here again”.
‘Make the World Go Away’ finds the singer pleading: “I’m sorry if I hurt you/I’ll make it up day by day/Just say you love me like you used to/And make the world go away”. Last up is the Kris Kristofferson composition ‘Help Me Make it Through the Night’ which Sammi Smith originally sang with great success. Here, it is a soft, sultry country ballad: “Take the ribbon from my hair/Shake it loose and let it fall/Lay it soft against your skin/Like the shadows on the wall/Come and lay down by my side/Till the early mornin’ light/All I’m takin’ is your time/Help me make it through the night”.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”. Verse 4 confirms that there is a time to weep. So sorrow is a biblical emotion. The majority of the 18 songs on TIMELESS deal with the grief one experiences when their romantic relationship comes to an end. Country and western music excels when it comes to this theme. I recommend this record to those who can’t get past a break-up. Verse 3 of the same Bible passage does, however, tell us that there is a time to heal as well. You won’t find solid answers on how to do so on this album-that is not its purpose. Martina’s vocals are awesome here, and it is nice to see her introducing a whole new generation of music lovers to these country and western classics. I’m rating TIMELESS a perfect 100%. For more info visit: www.martinamcbride.com.