Controversy Erupts over Tim McGraw’s New Single, “Red Ragtop”

By Catherine McHugh

The bum with diamonds in his pocket, Tim McGraw, has found his new hit single, “Red Ragtop”, in the middle of a brouhaha with country music stations around the country, especially those in southern states.

His new song is only playing on radio stations and won't be released until his album “Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors” is released in November. The song's lyrics deal with an abortion and the emotional fallout afterwards.

McGraw's manager Scott Simon was quoted in saying, “Tim, when he heard the song, recognized it was a real song about real issues and things people have to deal with. He views it as truly a slice of life.”

Program directors around the country though have been hesitant to play it. Some, like Kevin O'Neal, program director of Nashville's WSM-FM pulled the song after some listeners complained, mainly mothers who were worried they would have to talk about it with their daughters. He has since put it back on the air without any more complaints.

Ron Brooks, operations manager of WCOS Columbia, SC, flat out refuses to play the song because he believes it would alienate 40% of his audience. He claims it's not a political correctness issue. He just doesn't think it would be a good business decision.

And then there's Cory Calhoun from Louisville who's playing it reluctantly but just “wishes it would go away”. (Does that sound familiar?)

Songs about abortion are not often heard or played in mainstream music. They bring up feelings that are taboo in our society. Red Ragtop is about three things: pain, loss and regret. According to Theresa Burke, PhD, “We hope and believe that songs like Red Ragtop will make it easier for those who are struggling with the emotional aftermath of abortion to seek healing,” Burke said. “And we hope that controversy over this song will be an occasion for our society to allow people to express and heal their feelings over past abortions, instead of to suppress and reject the tender feelings that people may be experiencing.”

On an internet PASS support board, a post about Red Ragtop is still getting hits on it from post-abortive women six weeks after the initial post. Most posts talk about how the song has touched them and validated what they had been feeling: pain, loss & regret. A big slice of life.

So what does this all mean for Rachel's Vineyard? A reporter from the Cleveland Plain Dealer was looking into the controversy over the song because the songwriter, Jason White, hails from Cleveland. When researching it on the internet, the archived Rachel's Vineyard September newsletter kept coming up since the lyrics were posted in that issue. The reporter contacted Leslie Graves, RV media director, to interview her about Rachel's Vineyard, how we viewed the song and comment on why people might be upset over the song.

Another outreach suggestion for those retreat teams in areas where the song is being played despite the controversy or is not being played because of the controversy to contact their local radio or news stations. Let them know if you have a retreat coming up, and suggest playing a PSA about your retreat whenever they play the song.

This article courtesy of Rachel's Vineyard Ministries, A division of American Life League, Inc.

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