Country star Tim McGraw has made it clear already that, despite his lyrics to the contrary, he knows where Portland, Maine, is. He’s been here, he likes it here and he’s anxious to come back and visit. He said so in an interview with Portland country radio station WPOR 101.9 FM earlier this month.
Nevertheless, some local country musicians have taken the liberty of tweaking the lyrics to McGraw’s new song, “Portland, Maine.” American Ride is taking the track — which some consider a frontrunner for the Country Music Association’s coveted Song of the Year Award — from being a downtrodden breakup song to being an unapologetic promotional jingle for Maine’s largest city.
Shawn Theriault and Eric Mauriello of the band American Ride brought their version of the song to the television show Good Day Maine on Friday, where they shared it with our media partners at WGME, CBS 13.
“A lot of people had negative feelings about [the McGraw song] because they didn’t listen to the whole song, they only heard ‘Portland, Maine, I don’t know where that is’ and left it at that,” Theriault told CBS 13’s Jana Barnello. “We thought it was a good opportunity to change the words a little bit to promote Portland, and it was well received immediately.
“The original song is about a breakup,” he later continued. “The couple lives out west someplace and she is moving to Portland, Maine, and the guy doesn’t want to go anywhere. He says, ‘Portland, Maine, I don’t know where that is,’ and later on in the chorus, he says, ‘I don’t want to know.’ We changed that in our version to, ‘Portland, Maine, that’s where my heart lives’ and ‘I want you to know.'”
The American Ride version also includes lyrics touting “five-star food on every Old Port city street” and exclaiming that “on the water, the arts and music sing.”
Mauriello told CBS 13 American Ride plans to release a YouTube music video with their version featuring video of the duo performing at the restaurant Brian Boru and shots compiled by the Greater Portland Convention and Visitors Bureau showing off “everything that’s great about Portland.”
“It’s been a terrific promotional tool,” said Robert Witkowki of the visitors bureau during the Good Day Maine segment. “Even the original song has gotten a lot of attention in making people who don’t know where Portland, Maine, is look it up. So that’s been terrific, and this [American Ride] song is now putting a great spin on it.”
How could American Ride be allowed to rewrite one of Tim McGraw’s songs, you ask?
While I’m neither American Ride’s lawyer, nor Tim McGraw’s, lyrical overhauls have traditionally been protected in our legal system by laws allowing parodies — basically, the same protection “Weird Al” Yankovic uses to make fun of hit singles American Ride could conceivably use to promote Portland.
American Ride is scheduled to perform Friday night at 8 p.m. at Train’s Tavern in Lebanon, as well as Saturday night at 9:20 p.m. at Mr. Goodbar in Old Orchard Beach.