Tim McGraw

Tim McGraw – Single ©2006

Content

Background

“Tim McGraw” is the debut and lead single by American singer and songwriter Taylor Swift from her self-titled debut album. Swift wrote the song in her freshman year at Hendersonville High School during her mathematics class:

I was just sitting there, and I started humming this melody”

Taylor Swift via CMT

Liz Rose, who co-wrote the song with Swift, stated:

She came in with the idea and melody. She knew exactly what she wanted.”

Liz Rose via Taylor Swift: A Biography

The song took twenty minutes to write, just like it with “Our Song”, and a piano was used. Swift wrote the song as a means to cope with the complicated emotions she was experiencing due to her knowing that her and her senior boyfriend at the time were going to break up at the end of the year when he left for college.

After signing with Big Machine Records, Scott Borchetta, then CEO and president of the company, was talking with Swift about potential songs for her debut album during the early productions. Swift performed “Tim McGraw” for him on a fluke ukulele. After she was done, according to Swift, Borchetta faced her and said, “That’s your first single.” to which Swift replied, “Well. That’s how that works then.” Prior to that Swift did not believe the song was single material but went along with what the label executives told her and accepted they were correct. She placed the song as the first track on the album due to the song’s importance to her.

The song was released to radio stations on June 19, 2006 and performed well commercially, peaking at number six on the Hot Country Songs chart and won a BMI Award for “Award-Winning Songs”. The song also peaked at number forty on the Billboard Hot 100. On March 13, 2020 the single was certified 2x platinum by the RIAA for having over two million units sold.

Composition

“Tim McGraw” is a country song of three minutes and fifty-three seconds (3:53) and mingles traditional and modern country music with the use primarily of a twelve-stringed guitar and is categorized as a ballad of a mid-paced nature. It is written in the key of C Major. It is produced by Nathan Chapman.

Lyrically the song speaks of a summer romance that came to a sudden halt. The song remanences fondly on the ex-boyfriend and the lyrics are directed at him, not country singer Tim McGraw himself, using McGraw’s music as a marker in their relationship timeline.

Music Video

A music video directed by Trey Fanjoy premiered on July 22, 2006 on Great American Country. The video was filmed at the former home of Johnny and June Carter-Cash, the letter which the ex-boyfriend (portrayed by Clayton Collins) receives is addressed to “Johnny” for this specific reason. According to Swift, on the concept of the music video:

 It deals with the haunting power of music and how hearing a song years after it was first popular can have such an emotional appeal.”

Taylor Swift via GAC

The video begins with Swift, dressed in a white sundress, as she lies on the grass of a lake-bed and holds a transistor radio. Suddenly, the setting is switched to Collins as he drives a white and orange 1970 Chevrolet CST-10. He then turns his radio on and ceases driving, coming to a complete stop on a road. As Collins facial expressions become more serious, he flashbacks to memories with Swift. Swift and Collins are seen frolicking in a field, lying beside another on the back of Collins’ CST-10, staring at the stars together, holding hands as they walk, and slow dancing. When the song is in its final chorus, Collins arrives at a wooden cabin in his pick-up truck. He runs up the staircase to discover an enveloped letter next to the door. He then sits on the staircase, opens the envelope, and reads the letter. The video transcends towards Swift playing an acoustic guitar as she leans against the wooden cabin. Cut-scenes feature Swift lying on the lake-bed and performing with a guitar next to the wooden cabin. The video concludes with Swift, once again, lying on the initial setting.

The music video won the “Breakthrough Video of the Year” at the 2007 CMT Music Awards.

Charts, Accolades and Certifications

Weekly charts
Charts (2006-07)Peak Position
Canada Country (Billboard)10
US Billboard Hot 10040
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)6
US Pop 100 (Billboard)69
Year-end charts
Chart (2007)Peak Position
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)59
Accolades
YearOrganizationAwardResult
2007BMI AwardsAward-Winning SongsWon
2007CMT Music AwardsBreakthrough Video of the YearWon
Certifications
RegionCertificationCertified units/sales
United States (RIAA)2x Platinum2,000,000double-dagger
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Notes

  • When the song’s subject discovered it, he thought it was “cool” and kept friendship with Swift despite their breakup.

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