Samuel Timothy "Tim" McGraw (born May 1, 1967 in Start, Louisiana) is a Country Music artist. He is known as much for his music as for being the son of Major League Baseball player Tug McGraw and husband of fellow singer Faith Hill since 1996.
McGraw's first single, "What Room Was the Holiday In", didn't even make the charts, and "Welcome to the Club" only got to No. 47 (although the song did quite a bit better on the competing Radio & Records chart, reaching No. 29). After two more singles which both tanked miserably, he could easily have been tossed into the dustbin of country music history. Then a little song called "Indian Outlaw," with its cartoonish stereotypes of Native American lifestyles (and ensuing controversy), broke him into the Top 10 of country and Top 20 of pop, followed by the slightly more substantial "Don't Take the Girl." It wasn't long before his second album, Not a Moment Too Soon, sold six million copies stateside. Throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, he has maintained a constant stream of hits, including twenty-three #1 hits on the Billboard country charts. The longest-lasting of these is "Live Like You Were Dying," released not long after the death of his father.
The hits have slipped slightly since then, though he has had several more #1 hits since. The fanbase largely blames this slippage on poor single choices: pretty much every single between "Back When" and the end of his tenure with Curb has been considered a poor choice, and many fans have thought that a great deal of album cuts would have made better single choices.
After much legal wrangling, McGraw finally left Curb in May 2012 and signed with Big Machine Records. Coincidentally, this label is also home to Taylor Swift, who name-dropped him extensively in her debut single (quoted above). He moved again to Arista Records Nashville in 2017, signing a joint deal with Faith. This ended after only one album, after which Tim moved to Columbia Records... only to move back to Big Machine a mere two singles later.
It should be noted that while he is proud of his Country Music roots, McGraw is open about the fact that his personal taste in music is wide-ranging indeed and that he is a fan of nearly every genre of music. It was this wide-ranging taste in music that led him to join Nelly on the song "Over and Over". Country Music meets Hip-Hop, folks.
- Tim McGraw (1993)
- Not a Moment Too Soon (1994)
- All I Want (1995)
- Everywhere (1997)
- A Place in the Sun (1999)
- Greatest Hits (2000)
- Set This Circus Down (2001)
- Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors (2002)
- Live Like You Were Dying (2004)
- Tim McGraw Reflected: Greatest Hits Vol. 2 (2006)
- Let It Go (2007)
- Greatest Hits 3 (2008)
- Southern Voice (2009)
- Emotional Traffic (2012)
- Two Lanes of Freedom (2013)
- Sundown Heaven Town (2014)
- Damn Country Music (2015)
- The Rest of Our Life (duets album with Faith Hill) (2017)
- Here on Earth (2020)
- Advertised Extra:
- On then-labelmate Jo Dee Messina's "Bring On the Rain", to which he contributed a barely-discernible backing vocal. His credit seems especially egregious, as he already had a single out at the time ("The Cowboy in Me", which even succeeded "Rain" at #1).
- Two singles from Sundown Heaven Town give credit to barely-noticeable backing vocalists: Faith Hill on "Meanwhile Back at Mama's" and Catherine Dunn (his cousin) on "Diamond Rings and Old Barstools".
- Zig-zagged with Keith Urban's part on "Highway Don't Care", where he only plays a guitar solo and does not sing. The album credits both Taylor Swift (who sings a prominent duet vocal) and Keith Urban, but on the charts, it was only Tim and Taylor.
- He also gets full credit for a barely noticeable backing vocal on Big & Rich's 2016 single "Lovin' Lately".
- Age-Progression Song: "Don't Take the Girl" follows a character named Johnny at three different points in his life.
- Album Title Drop: Sundown Heaven Town is named for a line in "Lookin' for That Girl".
- Auto-Tune: Many of his 21st-century albums have used pitch correction to varying extents, but "Lookin' for That Girl" notoriously used it for stylistic purposes (although a radio edit reduced its use).
- Big Town Boredom: "Where the Green Grass Grows," "Meanwhile Back at Mama's," and "Down on the Farm" all mention how oppressive and monotonous big city life is, and how much better small-town life is.
- The Bully: The singer of "One of These Days" used to be one.
- Change the Uncomfortable Subject: "Don't Mention Memphis." The singer is hitch-hiking and begs the driver to talk about anything except Memphis, because he left his love behind there.
- Common Meter: The verses of "Last Dollar (Fly Away)" are common meter double.
- Dead Man Writing: The subject of "If You're Reading This" is a soldier that was killed in action, and the lyrics make up a letter he wrote to his loved one, only to be read in the case of his untimely death.
- Dead Sparks: "Maybe We Should Just Sleep On It" (a "try to revive" variety), "Angry All the Time" (a "time to call it quits" variety), and "The Great Divide" (a "this is salvageable with work" variety)
- "Dear John" Letter: "When She Wakes Up (And Finds Me Gone)" has a Rare Male Example. Here it's portrayed as a cowardly choice, because he's doing it to avoid seeing her reaction when she realizes he's left her.
- Differing Priorities Break Up: In "Everywhere," the singer and the ex-girlfriend he sees everywhere he goes broke up because he wanted to travel and see the world, and she wanted to make a life in their hometown.
- Domestic Abuse: "Between the River and Me" has the case of the step-father hurting the mother of the song ("Didn't take long for his drinking ways to start showing up on mama's face").
- Doo-Wop Progression: "Highway Don't Care"
- Down on the Farm: His 1994 song of that name details the goings-on in a party in this scenario.
- Drowning My Sorrows: "Refried Dreams" is a rather unique drowning-your-sorrows song even by country music standards. Also "Give it to Me Strait," a Song of Song Titles from the discography of, you guessed it, George Strait.
- Drowning Our Romantic Sorrows: "Welcome to the Club." The singer overhears a guy in a bar complaining about his break-up, and commiserates, even going so far as to imply that pretty much everyone else there is in the same boat.
- Dual-Meaning Chorus: "Don't Take the Girl". First, the boy asks that his dad not take the girl on a fishing trip; then he asks a robber not to take her away from him; then he asks God not to take her life as she struggles to stay alive.
- Early-Installment Weirdness:
- For most of The '90s, his songs were fairly lightweight ballads interspersed with silly novelty songs like "Indian Outlaw" and "I Like It, I Love It". He began pushing toward a slightly darker, pop- and rock-driven sound as early as "Please Remember Me" in 1999, and his sound has largely been in that direction ever since.
- The music video for "Welcome to the Club" (off his little-known first album) has him strumming a guitar, something that he hasn't done since.
- Empty Bedroom Grieving: In "Can't Be Really Gone," the narrator is in denial of what is heavily implied to be the death of his partner. He goes through the house, pointing out all of the things she loved that were left behind, before reaching their bedroom and being sure she can't be gone because her book is lying on their bed, unfinished.
- The First Cut Is the Deepest: The singer in "The Wrong Man" tells his love suffering from this trope that he won't treat her poorly like her ex.
- Have a Gay Old Time: "Back When" discusses this trope, looking back to a time when words like "coke", "hoe", "crack", "screw", and "blow" had much more innocent meanings.
- Incredibly Long Note: "Live Like You Were Dying" ends on one that lasts four-and-a-half bars.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: "Just to See You Smile."
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: "Real Good Man" is the singer's attempt to argue this: sure, he's a biker and all, but he loves his mother and is a dedicated patriot, so don't be afraid to get on that bike with him...
- Kids Rock: His children sing along at the end of "Last Dollar (Fly Away)."
- The Masochism Tango: "Please Remember Me" is apparently the tail end of one of these that was largely the singer's fault, leading to a sort of nonlethal Her Heart Will Go On.
- "Leaving the Nest" Song: Presented from a different perspective by the song "Humble and Kind", which is a list of things for his young adult child to remember as she leaves home. The song includes things like visiting grandparents, coming home to visit, using manners, not taking anything for granted, and to "always stay humble and kind."
- Like You Were Dying: His biggest hit, "Live Like You Were Dying".
- List Song: "Southern Voice," which lists off various Southern-oriented personalities, from Hank Aaron to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to Pocahontas. All are in the form of "[name] [verb]ed it", such as "Jack Daniels [sic] drunk it."
- Love Redeems: Explicitly state in "Not a Moment Too Soon."
- Lyrical Cold Open: "Last Dollar (Fly Away)" starts cold on the chorus, although the radio edit omitted it.
- Lyrical Shoehorn:
- "Angry All the Time" has the line "Twenty years have came and went", even though the grammatically correct "Have come and gone" would have fit the meter and rhyme scheme (and scanned better to boot).
- "My Old Friend" is even worse with "They laugh and they cry me / And somehow sanctify me". Verbs do not work that way.
- Meanwhile, Back at the…: "Meanwhile Back at Mama's." The song is about a city boy who wants to move back to the country because "meanwhile back at mama's" things are so much nicer. He does move back at the end.
- Men Don't Cry: Repeatedly subverted in "Grown Men Don't Cry."
- The One That Got Away: In "I Didn't Ask And She Didn't Say," the singer runs into an ex and catches up. He's tempted to ask if she remembers all of their times together and holds the same place in her heart that he holds for her, but he doesn't, and she doesn't bring it up.
- Rearrange the Song:
- "She Never Lets It Go to Her Heart" had the vocal track re-recorded for the radio edit.
- The radio edit of "Lookin' for That Girl", as mentioned above, greatly reduced the use of Auto-Tune.
- Record Producer:
- All of his material has had Byron Gallimore as a producer or co-producer except for "What Room Was the Holiday In", which was produced by Doug Johnson instead. James Stroud co-produced from the debut album until A Place in the Sun, McGraw himself has co-produced since Everywhere, and Darran Smith (lead guitarist in his road band) was also a co-producer from Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors until Emotional Traffic.
- He and Gallimore also produced for labelmate Jo Dee Messina from 1996 to 2005, along with The Clark Family Experience (who recorded for Curb in 2000), Lori McKenna, and Halfway to Hazard (who released one album for McGraw and Gallimore's short-lived StyleSonic label).
- Recycled Premise: "Meanwhile Back at Mama's" is, lyrically, beat-for-beat the same song as "Where the Green Grass Grows," just slower and more wistful; both are about becoming jaded with city living and making plans to move back to the country where life is simpler.
- Second-Person Narration: "Don't Mention Memphis," "One of Those Nights," "Highway Don't Care," "Maybe We Should Just Sleep On It"
- Self-Titled Album: As listed above, he had one in 1993 and another (sort of) in 2002.
- Shout-Out: "Give it to Me Strait," a Song of Song Titles from George Strait, which name-drops his songs "If I Know Me," "Fool-Hearted Memory," and "Am I Blue," and references "The Fireman" and "Baby's Gotten Good at Goodbye."
- Unusual Euphemism:
- In "It Doesn't Get Countrier Than This," the singer is singing the praises of his lover, including the fact that she "cranks [his] tractor with just one kiss."
- "You Turn Me On" is full of these, including a return of "crank my tractor." Others include "flipped the switch on my dumaflache," "played my piano like Liberace," "flicked my Bic," and "tripped the trigger on my thingamajig."
- Vocal Evolution: His voice started out fairly high and whiny, but got gradually lower and less whiny over time. By Set This Circus Down, the whine was completely gone.
- When You Coming Home, Dad?: Referenced in "Grown Men Don't Cry":Keep having this dream about my old man
I'm ten years old and he's holding my hand
We're talking on the front porch watching the sun go down
But it was just a dream, he was a slave to his job and he couldn't be around
So many things I want to say to him
I just placed a rose on his grave and I talked to the wind...
- Win Her a Prize: In the song "I Like It, I Love It", he describes all the things he does to impress the girl he's infatuated with:I spent 48 dollars last night at the county fair
I throwed out my shoulder but I won her that teddy bear
- Word Salad Lyrics:
She's my kind of rain
- "She's My Kind of Rain:"
Like love in a drunken sky
She's confetti falling down all night
She sits there quietly
Like water in a jar
Says, "Baby, why you trembling like you are?"
- Also "When the Stars Go Blue", a Ryan Adams cover.