Craig Morgan, who confronts 55 candles on his birthday cake today (July 17), pumped out a stream of Top 20 hits between 2002 and 2013, including the No. 1 “That’s What I Love About Sunday” in 2004.
Singles like “Redneck Yacht Club” (No. 2, 2005) and “International Harvester” (No. 10, 2007) showed that Morgan was adept at delivering whimsical material. But he’s been even more moving when he took on the heavier material about life’s victims — the ones who’ve been smacked down by circumstance but who are never quite defeated.
The first of these more somber songs was “Almost Home” in 2002, which became the singer’s first Top 10. It tells the story of a homeless man who’s found nearly frozen to death but who scolds the good Samaritan who awakens him because he’s been dreaming that he’s “almost home” to his idyllic childhood. Don’t approach his song without a box of tissues at hand.
“Every Friday Afternoon” (2003) is equally tear-inducing. In it, a divorced father reacts to the news that the son he’s had on weekends for the past three years will be moving with his mother to Boston. “It might as well be China or the dark side of the moon/There’s no way I can be there every Friday afternoon,” Morgan sings.
“Tough” (2007) chronicles a wife and mother with extraordinary strength who smiles her way through every ordeal including cancer. It’s sung from the husband’s point of view. He marvels that “there was a time/back before she was mine/when I thought I was tough.”
Finally, we arrive at “This Ain’t Nothin’” (2010). The scene is the aftermath of a tornado. A reporter approaches an old man walking through the ruins of his home and asks him how it feels to lose “everything that’s dear.” The old man’s list of losses will really put your own woes in perspective.
Watch the video and weep. I did.