“Thicker Than Blood” tells of a loving blended family while it condemns violence and hatred. With tongue in cheek, “Big Money” suggests that certain high-risk careers aren’t worth a hefty paycheck. Similarly, two workaholics decide to value one another above wealth on “Squeeze Me In,” a duet with Trisha Yearwood. The little dash between the dates on a tombstone represents the life lived, and “Pushing Up Daisies” urges listeners to live it well. Other songs speak of romantic love (“Wrapped Up in You”), relying on a beacon of strength (“When You Come Back to Me Again” from the movie Frequency) and the need to pick up and move on after a breakup (“The Storm”).
A man prone to casual sex feels oddly committed to his latest one-night stand on “Why Ain’t I Running.” A fling South of the Border with a girl he just met (“We danced all night beneath that sheet of cotton”) lands a cowboy in a heap of trouble with a jealous husband (“Rodeo or Mexico”). “Beer Run,” an irresponsible duet with George Jones, finds a truck full of guys doing 90 mph for the county line to pick up six cases of brew that will be gone by morning.
Brooks’ swan song succeeds when expressing romantic love or challenging misplaced priorities. Lots of heart. But if Scarecrow only had a brain, it would have avoided playful winks at alcohol and sexual misconduct.