Draped in his signature attire of form-fitting jeans, a snug T-shirt, and topped with his iconic black cowboy hat, Tim McGraw effortlessly embodies the essence of country cool. Yet, in this instance, seated within the confines of his wife Faith Hill’s home office, the man who boasts an impressive 92 entries on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart—26 of them securing the coveted top spot—and is a proud owner of three Grammy Awards, finds himself ruminating on something as timeless as etiquette.
Noticing a copy of “Jane Austen’s Guide to Good Manners” resting on the bookshelf, McGraw surmises that Hill must have turned to its pages to educate their three daughters—Gracie, 26; Maggie, 25; and Audrey, 21—during their formative years. A wry smile graces his face.
“In all likelihood, she read it to educate me, if I’m being honest,” he playfully quips during our virtual conversation.
While Tim McGraw undeniably reigns as a luminary in the realm of country music, with a career spanning over three decades and a discography boasting chart-topping anthems like “I Like It, I Love It,” “Just to See You Smile,” “Cowboy In Me,” “Highway Don’t Care,” and “When the Stars Go Blue,” to name a few, he currently finds himself immersed in a reflective state of mind that transcends the stage.
His seventeenth studio album, “Standing Room Only,” slated for release this Friday, has already birthed a hit in its eponymous title track. This composition harkens back to his introspective classics such as “Live Like You Were Dying” and “Humble and Kind,” delving into the intricate tapestry of a life well-lived with poignant verses that deeply resonate: “Start forgivin’ and start forgettin’ / Be somebody that’s worth rememberin’ / Live a life so when I die / There’s standing room only.”
At 56, McGraw candidly acknowledges that the allure of contemplative melodies grows more pronounced with the passage of time, a reflection of his own maturation and evolution.
“Throughout my career, my musical inclinations have naturally gravitated toward such compositions—stories of life’s journey. Each of us experiences stumbling blocks, navigates low points, makes missteps, utters words we regret, and sometimes even finds ourselves on the wrong side of political correctness,” he shares. “However, what truly matters is our resilience—to rise with the sun each day, committed to becoming better versions of ourselves. I’m eternally on the hunt for songs that affirm life’s essence, as they serve as my personal therapy, a reminder of the person I continuously aspire to be.”
While several luminaries of country music have recently found themselves embroiled in controversies sparked by divisive songs and actions, Tim McGraw remains steadfastly focused on his own musical journey and conscious choices.
“I reserve my energy solely for the music I create. I believe that the songs I record possess their own narratives and speak volumes on their own accord,” he asserts. “I steadfastly uphold my beliefs and principles, and these convictions are evident to anyone who pays attention.”
Amidst the cacophony of ongoing cultural clashes, McGraw remains circumspect regarding any seismic shifts within the country music industry. Resolutely, he refuses to be swept into the maelstrom of these debates, preferring instead to let his music—an art form he ardently believes in—resonate and communicate his values.