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Billy Ray Cyrus, ‘Nineteen’ – Song Review

Billy Ray Cyrus
Buena Vista Records

Billy Ray Cyrus‘ new single ‘Nineteen’ tells the story of a high school football standout who turns down the University of Tennessee to serve in the Marines after watching the September 11 attacks. The timing of the song’s release is opportunistic, but Cyrus’ sincerity is felt through every breath of this poignant ballad.

‘Nineteen’ has been recorded a number of times by a number of different artists over the last decade. It keeps popping up, because much like Lauren Alaina‘s ‘Like My Mother Does,’ it’s a story that deserves the attention of the mainstream country audience. Cyrus begins with the main character’s background. “Nineteen / The number on his back voted captain of his high school football team / Took us all the way to states got a scholarship to play down in Tennessee / Said he could run, he could duck, he could throw, he can go like you’ve never seen / Nineteen.”

We’ve all heard this style of circle-of-life song before, so we know where it’s headed. Much like a tear-jerking movie, the song’s predictability makes it even more difficult to stomach the teen’s fate without leaking a tear or two. “He’s a boy next door / He might of carried your bags at the grocery store / Now he’s somebody’s son in a hole with a gun in some foreign land / Trying to hold on to his American dreams / Nineteen,” Cyrus sings during the chorus.

The bravery of every young man and woman who’s given their life for our country is felt in one line at the end of the third verse. “There’s a sniper out there in the dark somewhere, and a soldier down. / We need someone who can run, who can duck and go get him out / Answered one good man who raised his hand to take one for the team / How ’bout you, nineteen?”

It takes some amount of courage to release a song like ‘Nineteen’ because if country listeners get a whiff of insincerity, they’ll see to it you never get a song played on radio again. Much like ‘I’m American,’ the album of patriotic songs Cyrus released earlier this year, that scent only lingers if it’s trapped in one’s nose from another singer’s song.

4 Stars

Listen to Billy Ray Cyrus, ‘Nineteen’

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