From the first chord or chorus, you just know that this is going to break you. I mean, nobody goes into “He Stopped Loving Her Today” thinking you’re going to have a fun romp.
The title itself is devastating.
But other songs . . . other songs like to suck you in, wait until you’re comfortable and smiling, and then they like to kick you right below the belt.
Well, “Just to See You Smile” by Tim McGraw is definitely one of the latter.
Written by Mark Nesler and Tony Martin, it was released as the third single from McGraw’s fourth studio album Everywhere in 1997.
I swear I always forget how sad this song is until I reach the second verse and remember. I actually didn’t realize it was a sad song until one day when I finally paid attention to the words.
I probably should’ve figured it out sooner though because the first two lines perfectly set up the singer as having this feeling of self-loathing. Like he’s not good enough for the person he’s singing to.
“You always had an eye for things that glittered
But I was far from bein’ made of gold”…
But I was definitely deceived for a long time. I thought that maybe she saw something in him that he always thought was just dull.
And the chorus doesn’t give us the indication of the lengths this guy will go to make this girl happy, other than buy something he can’t afford.
Then, then… the second verse takes all of the wind and hope and prayers for a happy ending out of our sails:
“When you said time was all you really needed
I walked away and let you have your space
‘Cause leavin’ didn’t hurt me near as badly
As the tears I saw rollin’ down your face
And yesterday I knew just what you wanted
When you came walkin’ up to me with him
So I told you that I was happy for you
And given the chance I’d lie again..”
I gotta say it’s the first two lines and the last two lines of this verse that will forever sit heavy in my gut.
Gosh, those first two lines are frustrating though because we are told by the singer that this girl doesn’t necessarily want him to walk away. She just needed time.
Time for what? We’re not sure, but the singer decides to just completely walk away instead. Part of me still believes that these two would’ve worked out if he had stayed.
Then that last line where he says that he’d lie again about his own sadness and heartbreak just to make her happy . . . woof. It’s brutal.
But it’s also subtle with music that doesn’t indicate that this is a heartbreak for the singer, which somehow makes it sadder. The singer really does want this woman to be happy even if he’s not.
So much so that even the music is meant to lull the listener into this false sense of joy.