Country music is having a major moment in 2023, with country songs making history by holding down the top three slots on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. During a recent interview with Tetris Kelly for Billboard News, three-time Grammy winner Tim McGraw offered his thoughts on country music topping the all-genre chart, as a further evolution of the genre’s continued growth.
“I love it. The more we can bring to the party, the better,” McGraw said, referencing the Hot 100 success of Jason Aldean’s “Try That in a Small Town,” Morgan Wallen’s “Last Night” and Luke Combs’ “Fast Car”; since this interview was filmed, another country song — Oliver Anthony Music’s “Rich Men in Richmond” — skyrocketed straight to No. 1 on the chart. “Country music has consistently grown, for a long time. When new people discover it, and they find out — if they didn’t think they liked it, then they will hear something and all of a sudden they will discover other people. I think for a long time, the country music industry fought that — fought the crossover idea, or the idea that other people are listening to their music or other stations are playing their music.”
He noted that his wife, fellow artist Faith Hill, was on the receiving end of that mind-set when her songs “Breathe” and “The Way You Love Me” reached the top five on the Hot 100 in the early aughts. “I mean, my wife got the brunt end of that quite a bit when she was having a lot of crossover success. In my mind, I think you miss the point when you feel that way, because not only is it good for the artist that that happens to, but it’s good for all the other artists as well.
“As an artist, you just make your music and it lands where it lands and you take the consequences of it, either way,” he added. “I can’t speak to what other artists do when they’re making music; what I can say is I’ll let my music…and the kind of messages I put out, speak for itself.”
McGraw does just that with the music he’s recently released, including “Standing Room Only” and “Hey Whiskey” from his upcoming album Standing Room Only, out Friday.
Speaking with Billboard News, McGraw recalled the inspiration for one of the songs on the album, which he wrote, called “Nashville, California; LA, Tennessee.” The song is inspired by his eldest daughter Gracie’s move to Los Angeles.
“I have this 19-year-old Cadillac Escalade that I can’t get rid of,” McGraw laughs. “We call it the Griswold Family cruiser. I’d ripped all the seats out of it and loaded all of Gracie’s stuff into it. Her and I did a road trip from Nashville to L.A. to move her out there. We spent about four days traveling, staying in great spots and doing carpool karaoke, singing songs together. She’s a fantastic singer. We got to L.A. late at night, movin’ her into her place, moving boxes in. By that time, she was ready to get rid of me. Finally she said, ‘Daddy, you have to go,’ so I gave her a big hug and I just cried like a baby.”
In addition to his album, McGraw is gearing up for his Standing Room Only Tour, which will launch in 2024 and feature opener Carly Pearce. McGraw says the tour will be “probably one of the biggest productions we’ve ever had.”
“I’m pretty excited to have all the bells and whistles,” he says. “It’s fun for me. I like to put on a show for everybody else, but that stuff up there is fun for me as well.”
Watch his full interview in the video above.