Gwyneth Paltrow tells us the story behind her new song, 'Country Strong'

Gwyneth-PaltrowImage Credit: Camera Press/Tristan Gregory/Retna LtdWe knew Gwyneth Paltrow could sing — or at least handle Smokey Robinson’s “Cruisin'” alongside Huey Lewis — but reaction to the title track from the upcoming movie Country Strong (slated for Dec. 22) can best be described as “pleasantly astonished.” Joining the ranks of the shocked: Paltrow herself.

During a recent chat with the actress about Country Strong and her extensive preparation for the role of Kelly Canter — a Faith Hill-type Nashville superstar who’s trying to reclaim her career after a crash in rehab — we asked, half jokingly, if she set out to have another radio hit, a la “Cruisin’,” which got decent play a decade ago. “No! I didn’t! What the hell?” Paltrow laughed. “No! I was just singing songs for the movie. I think the original plan was they wanted the bona fide crew to re-sing our songs, and then when [Sony Music Nashville chair] Joe Galante heard it, he was like, ‘No, I want to release this as the single.’ I was like, ‘Excuse me please? What? What is going on?'”

The track (hear it here) is a straight-down-the-middle commercial country song that wouldn’t sound out of place on the radio alongside Faith or Martina McBride, with Paltrow’s hearty alto soaring above guest vocals from Vince Gill and Patty Griffin. “They were added in later,” Paltrow said. “I did my vocal, and then Byron Gallimore, the producer, who’s unbelievable, he was like [in Gallimore’s drawl], ‘You know, I just think Vince would sing so well on this.’ I was like, There’s no way. And he f—ing got Vince Gill to sing on the track! It’s crazy. He has this best voice ever, in the history of any genre. I just die for that man’s voice. And Patty Griffin, I had seen her play in New York with John Prine years ago, and I had gotten really into her record Flaming Red. Amazing. I’m so humbled.”

Paltrow also revealed that she and Country Strong costar Tim McGraw (he plays her husband/manager) recorded a duet for the film’s end credits. No word yet on what her old karaoke buddy Huey thinks of all this, but what do you think, Mixers? Are you as astounded by Gwyneth’s latest sorta-accidental single as Gwyneth?

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

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Comments (32 total) Add your comment
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  • Alex

    When God gives, he gives with full hands… Gwyneth has talent to spare, beauty and BRAINS. I can’t wait to see her new movie. And yes, the lady can sing!

    • OMG That’s GOOD!

      Jesus! If the movie is as good as the song, it’s going to be a huge hit. I want to buy that single! What a wonderful message and her vocals are AMAZING!!!! As much as I love Taylor Swift, I wish she had vocals like that. That’s Reba McIntire vocals! That was a smart producer to release that as a single.

    • Alev

      New follower, love your blog, I need go get btteer about doing mine. I read all you stuff on Angel Cohen, may god continue to give you strength and faith. You are a strong girl. My heart breaks for you. YYou are blessed to have an angel. Im glad god has continued to give you the comfort you need to find peace in your difficult situation. God Bless you and baby Cohen.

  • emmaline

    The song isn’t bad if you like country music and she sounds great, just as she did in Duets.

  • bigfish

    I heard the song, as a matter I fact – listened to it almost everyday – she really is talented

  • P77

    I love the song, truthfully. I didn’t think I would, not being a country music fan in the least, but I loved it. I listen to it often. Is this going to be the “Crazy Heart” of 2010? Is Gyneth going after Oscar #2? Should be fun!

  • Peter

    She is as bad a K Gosselin, Jennifer Lopez and Anniston…..Fame monikers-over the hill and the public is tired of them

  • Matthew M. F. Miller

    It’s a fine song and she does a nice job tackling the melody, but how is the listener supposed to separate what we know about Gwyneth as a person from the narrator of this song? Any capable singer can sing a country song, but unless the singer understands the song it just feels very hollow. I grew up in the country and moved to the city and I firmly believe that Ms. Paltrow knows nothing about being “country strong.”It’s impossible to take this song seriously coming from a woman who travels around Spain with Mario Batali and lunches with Beyonce and Jay-Z.

    • OMG That’s GOOD!

      I’m not a fan of someone who sounds as empty as what you mentioned. However, like all people, she has many facets to her. Yes, there’s the privilege & shallow side, but there’s also depth and pain that she’s had to weather from a public heartbreak (twice over her father’s death & her cancelled engagement), to speaking out about post partum depression. I understand the envious resentment, but what has she ever done to deserve it? She can’t help that God blessed her w/ looks, wealth and a career that came from that. However, she’s a hard worker, tries her best to share helpful information, tries to be a good mother and daughter, doesn’t seem to steal other people’s husbands, beat people who are weaker than she is up, rant racial vitriols, do drugs or drink then put other people’s lives at risk by driving. Instead of being consumed w/ envy, use it to create the things that you want that she has for yourself. Yes, it’s MUCH harder, but President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and along list of others did.

      • OMG That’s GOOD!

        How about some of this anger toward Charlie Sheen who was blessed w/ the same things, but just got convicted of putting a knife to his wife’s throat. Shot his ex-girlfriend Kelly Preston and has been accused by TWO other exes that we know of physical abuse. Now that would be anger (and boycotting) of things like his show that makes him money that’s deserved.

    • ThatDavidGuy

      @Matthew. With all-due respect, I would love to offer a point of view from a classically trained singer. We strive every time we sing a song to make the language our own and make it speak in a way that is unique to us. Just because the poet and/or composer was born 200 years ago doesn’t mean we or others can’t relate to it. If the lyrics mean something to her she has every right to sing the song. I’m a twenty something white dude, but I love singing spirituals more than anything else. Open your mind a little :-) To limit the capacity in which one makes music is like stomping on someone’s heart.

  • Kat

    It sounds just great! I can understand the reaction. Go Gwyn!

  • Alicia

    Gwyneth is a pretty woman and so talented-I am looking forward to her new movie. Gwyneth is an actress and doesn’t want to branch out into singing like most would with her talent, but she has so much on her plate already…

  • KNSat

    Matthew, remember that Paltrow was ACTING the part of a country singer. That’s what real actors do, they act a character that is not them.

    Regardless of what Paltrow does in her personal life, for the role in Country Strong, she should be judged on how well she makes you believe the character. I remember seeing her in the little-watched movie Flesh and Bone with Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid. She was an unknown then, and played a low-rent southern grifter, and she stole the show. I remember thinking who IS this girl – she’s amazing! If she brings that same authenticity to this current role, she could surprise you.

    • Matthew M. F. Miller

      But that doesn’t mean it’s authentic as a song. As a performance in a movie, I can put aside her private life and focus on her role. However, music is more personal than that – you can’t just wake up and pretend to be a country singer one day. It didn’t work for Jewel and it won’t work for Paltrow.

      • Jan

        Then maybe there hasn’t been a true country star since Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton.

      • Kanye

        thats what just about every country singer these days has done. pop country is terrible. but the true country stars that Jan mentioned were the real deal. the brad paisleys and kenny chesneys and gretchen wilsons of the world can’t hold a candle to the likes of willie, waylon, cash, loretta or dolly. sooooo….whats it going to hurt to have one more person acting like a country singer?

  • Myra Robinson

    that is just it,you can be come an overnight success,or did you forget about Taylor Swift. look how far she has come with “Tim McGraw”? her first single. you never know. I sure hope since Tim had time to make a duet with Gwyneth,he can find time to make another duet with his wife. I sure hope this movie is a success,Tim is a great actor and so is Gwyneth. good luck to them all. I miss Tim and Faith singing together.

  • Jane

    Okay, WHERE is the song? I followed the link to that other site but I’m not seeing the actual song posted on that page. Help!

  • Myra Robinson

    what someone else does in their personal life has no reflection on what they do in a movie. she is an actress and this is her debut as a singer,nothing wrong with that.

  • ms

    Yes, she has a great voice, but listening to Gwyneth Paltrow act her way through the lyrics of “Country Strong” does not a Country hit make. Country music has always been less about the music and more about the story and the story teller. As a song in a movie, it’s fine. As a true country single with heart and soul, it rings hollow.

  • Rachel

    Great comment, KNSat – Flesh and Bone is one of the overlooked movies but also one of the more disturbing ones I’ve seen. She was excellent in that movie and in this song!

  • Melissa

    I am a huge country music fan. I hope she goes further with her singing talent. I would buy the album. I can’t wait to see the movie.

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