Tim McGraw’s star began to rise in Nashville in the early 1990s. It hasn’t dimmed since then. And this week (July 2024), his latest radio single, “One Bad Habit,” sits in the top 20 on the country charts and is headed for the top.

Tim has sold over 96 million records worldwide, he’s had 47 number-one radio singles, 19 number-one albums, and he’s won countless industry awards and accolades.

The country superstar has been touring and playing shows for nearly 30 years and has mastered his craft. Tim knows which of his classics he can’t avoid playing every night.

In one of my many interviews with the country icon over the years, Tim told me, “Probably ‘Live Like You Were Dying.’ I don’t think I could get away with leaving that one out more than any of them. I think that song is just such an impactful song. We don’t treat that song as a ballad; we treat that song as a production.”

McGraw is known for helping younger artists, many of who went on to be huge stars. Luke Bryan told us in a recent interview, “I never will forget my first big tour with Tim McGraw. He inspired me in a lot of ways because when you’re around Tim, you see the dedication and just what a superstar is.”

He continued, “Tim McGraw, I mean, I’ll miss the gym a little bit and a half to dial it back in, but Tim, he is wired to be in superstar mode all the time. He’s one of the best song guys that’s ever been in Nashville. I never will forget he was nice enough when I was touring with him, he would let me fly on his plane.”

That private plane flight was a big moment for Bryan. He shared, “The full sequencing of Crash My Party, I just finished it, and he said, ‘What are you listening to?’ I said, ‘I’m listening to the sequencing of my album,’ and he goes, ‘Let me hear it.’ And I thought he would do the cliff notes version’ but no, he sat there and listened. It was forty minutes of him listening, and I was on Tim McGraw’s plane watching him with his eyes closed, listening to my album.”

Luke concluded, “I think by the time I got off the plane, I had sweat rings under my armpits. When he got done, he was like, ‘Welcome to the big show.'”

In my time in Nashville, I have sat down with McGraw since the 1990s, and we have talked about many things in his life and career. As Tim enjoys another country hit at radio, I dug up some things we talked about over the years.

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  • 2016 - Tim talked about the joy of collaborting with other country artists

    2016 Tim McGraw
    Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

    “To be in a place in your career where you can call somebody, and they’ll sing with you. I mean Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, [I get to] play guitar with my wife, and have people say, ‘Yeah, I’ll sing a song with you.’ How cool is that? It’s like I’m bein’ a kid, you know, to ask your favorite artist to be able to sing with you, and they will.”

  • 2015 - McGraw talked about performing "Live Like You Were Dying" live in concert

    “You see people cry every time we perform that song, and sometimes it gets to us, and it’s tough. When we see those things, it affects us. I feel like for that song that I’m really sort of just a megaphone for that song that it’s not really anything to do with me or the band or anything else. I think that it’s just one of those songs that belongs to everybody in the room at the same time. And when you get a reaction like that from someone else, I think that everyone in the room feels it. Not only us (and) not only them. I think that everyone in the room feels it, and I think that that’s just the power of a great song.”

  • 2015 - Tim talked about how songs affect him

    2015 Tim McGraw
    Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

    “I sort of open myself up to some sort of visceral attack. I think that when you hear a song, it has to affect you, and usually right away, I know if it’s gonna affect me or not. If it doesn’t move me in some sort of way, it can be a physical chill bump reaction, or it can be somethin’ that sort chokes you a bit, or it could be somethin’ that makes you smile or somethin’ that makes you feel happy, make you roll the window down. All those things, somethin’ has to happen, and if somethin’ doesn’t happen, then there’s no need listenin’ to it anymore.”

  • 2020 - How the pandemic affected him

    2020 Tim McGraw
    Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    “You find more meaning in things for sure. Music is at the top of my list for stuff that’s sort of soul food for your heart and for your soul and something that makes that can connect people in a lot of different ways. Music has always been there for me. That’s been my sort of best friend. All throughout my life.”

  • 2020 - McGraw on his mom reacting to dropping out of college to pursue music

    Tim McGraw and his mom
    Michael Buckner/Getty Images

    “I knew how hard she how bad she wanted me to go to college. And I was in pre-law. I was going to go to law school and do all that stuff. And it was a pretty good student coming out of high school. I knew how badly she wanted me to do that. And I remember calling her and getting up the nerve to call her, to tell her that I was going to quit college and move to Nashville. And it took me a while to do that. And when I told her. She just said, ‘I’m surprised you hadn’t done it already.’ And that was her way of just telling me, go do it.”

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