Certain Songs #1068: Macy Gray – “I Try”

Album: On How Life Is
Year: 1999

Like no doubt most of you, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to Macy Gray after her award-winning smash debut, On How Life Is, but right around the turn of the century, that record was pretty much everywhere, led by its biggest song, the anthemic “I Try.”

Grammy nominated for both record and song of the year, and a winner of Best Female Pop Performance, “I Try” was also a top five single, no doubt because the first time you heard the elegant chorus, you instantly needed to hear it again.

I try to say goodbye and I choke
Try to walk away and I stumble
Though I try to hide it, it’s clear
My world crumbles when you are not there

With Gray’s unique rasp multi-tracked to give it more power against the single tracked verses, it all revolves around how she spins around the final half of the final line, “my world crumbles when you are not there” so deep into it she can’t even bother to song “you aren’t there” like you’d expect. Which of course is part of the power of that chorus: how much time it takes to resolve.

Later on, there’s a modulation, and yet another Macy Gray starts singing against herself, interjecting screams and shouts of and asides in absolutely classic soul fashion, kicking “I Try” into transcendence.

“I Try”

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