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Following on from last issue’s ‘Don’t Blink’ by Kenny Chesney, for this edition I’ve chosen another Class-A tearjerker. I’ve spoken before about how the powerful storytelling that lies at the core of Country music often makes it perfect for delivering a moving, heartrending message about life, love and loss - and everything in-between. Although not one of his best known songs, George Strait’s ‘Give Me More Time’ epitomises this. It opens in media res with a farmer desperately pleading with the local banker for more time to balance his debts.
“A banker and a farmer Discuss the bottom line It ain't rained and all the crops Are dying on the vine Give me more time You gotta give me more time”
Hazarding a hesitant guess, I would say that the majority of you reading this are neither bankers nor farmers. But even though this might not be directly relatable, you can’t help but feel sorry for the farmer who finds himself in such a helpless situation, and it starts the song off on a sorrowful and perhaps slightly uneasy note.
“That farm's been in my family Going on a hundred years We've pulled through hard times before With blood, sweat and tears Give me more time I need more time”
This mood continues when the listener is plunged into a completely different scenario, this time involving a failed proposal. Strait builds out the vocals and introduces more instrumentation here, compared to the minimalistic introductory verses, all of which add to this heightening sense of angst and worry.
“Two lovers at a table Candlelight and wine One's looking for an answer The other one can't find Give me more time You gotta give me more time”
The situations Strait takes us through all revolve around the feeling of needing just a little extra time, whether it’s for improving the crops or finding a ‘yes’ from one’s partner. But what I find interesting about both of these situations is that, arguably, more time won’t solve either of the problems. If the crops are ruined, then - based off the extensive knowledge I gleaned from watching one episode of Jeremy Clarkson’s Farm - they’re not going to improve any time soon and they’re effectively a lost cause. Equally, if something feels off about the relationship at that point, then even if you’re given a few additional days to think things through, this most likely won’t change that gut feeling that something just isn’t right. Of course, these are generalisations, and perhaps a little more time would help in some of these instances. To put a more positive spin on these scenarios, these attempts to buy time that I described as desperation could instead be seen as examples of defiantly clinging onto hope, when all else seems to be failing. And there’s always something inspiring and deeply human about holding onto hope. However, the most poignant ‘lyrical life lesson’ of this song, in my opinion, can be found in the final verse. Strait has just reached his crescendo, crooning philosophically about the various ways in which we misuse the limited time we’re given:
“Some have barely any Some too much on their hands Some would give anything To have it back again”
Then, for what I would say is the most tragic scenario of them all, he pulls it all back in and sings gently over a sparse piano track:
“A patient and his doctor Meet behind closed doors You’re kidding me? How could this be? I'm only 24 Give me more time You gotta give me more time”
It might seem corny or trite seeing it written out, but for me at least, every time I hear these lyrics, it hits me how we just never know what the future holds. I sincerely hope that this last scenario isn’t a relatable one for you, and it thankfully isn’t for me. But even so, whenever I listen to this song it just emphasises to me how, whatever frustrations or worries or stresses I might be feeling at that particular time, it could always be a heck of a lot worse. And that’s not to trivialise the problems we do have, because we’re all going through things that might at times feel like the worst things in the world. But personally, ‘Give Me More Time’ feels like a reset button. It wakes me up out of whatever stress-fuelled trance I might be in, and reminds me that, hey, you’re lucky to be alive. At the end of the day, there’s nothing more valuable than time, and this song reminds me to go out and spend mine on the important things in life. Or, in other words, it reminds me that I should spend my time listening to as many George Strait vinyls as possible…!
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