Tim McGraw hardly needs an introduction. The country legend has countless number-one hits ranging from Just To See You Smile to Humble and Kind. However, he also has a plethora of deep cuts that are worth exploring.
There is one deep cut that stands head and shoulders above the rest of McGraw’s extensive discography. That song is Annie I Owe You a Dance, the eighth track on McGraw’s criminally underrated 2013 album, Two Lanes of Freedom.
Written by Grammy-nominated songwriters, James T. Slater and Tom Douglas, the track paints the story of a touring artist lamenting a lost love. Set in a simple grocery store on aisle 13, Annie I Owe You a Dance does something any country song should do; It makes its subject matter relatable. While not everyone is a touring artist playing around the country, nearly everyone has a lost love that they would like to have one more moment with.
Taken on its surface level, the song is a gorgeous one, reminiscing about past love and confronting past mistakes. However, the use of metaphor and symbolism is what elevates the track to the next level.
Annie symbolizes past regrets throughout the narrator’s life. Taken literally, Annie is a real person with a husband and child shopping at a grocery store. However, it’s clear throughout the song that Annie can be used to symbolize any past mistake throughout the narrator’s life. Any of the decisions that he second guesses throughout his life manifest themselves through Annie.
The dance that the two share later becomes a metaphor for the narrator confronting his past mistakes and finding redemption. The final lyrics state:
“Shouldn’t be surprised the forgiveness in your eyes gave me a second chance. Annie, thanks for the dance.”
Finally, the decision to embrace Annie, beautifully depicted as a simple dance in a grocery store aisle, allows the narrator to let go of his past and finally move on. Whether it’s literally giving Annie the dance that he owes her or simply letting go of his mistakes, the narrator finally finds redemption in the arms of Annie.
Annie I Owe You a Dance is simply a hidden gem in McGraw’s Two Lanes of Freedom. The amount of world-building and storytelling packed in the three minute and forty-five-second track is simply incredible. The gorgeous lyrics from Slater and Douglas, the vocals from McGraw, and the beautiful piano-centric production, combine to make this one of the best country songs of the 2010s.
Listen to it here: