'Place in the Sun' CD
McGraw's 'Place in the Sun' CD

Tim McGraw checks in from the road
By Andy Argyrakis

Imagine having 12 No. 1 hits, selling well over 11 million albums, and receiving seven 1999 Country Music Association award nominations! Difficult as it sounds, that's life for Tim McGraw.

McGraw got this life by being one of the hardest working stars in country music, as demonstrated by his constant presence on Billboard's charts and his desire to please fans.

He has just released "A Place in the Sun" and launched a tour that is giving fans everywhere what they want -- hits, fun, and lots of Tim!

Despite being in the midst of a gigantic tour, McGraw took time out for an interview with CPNet.com. Calling from the road in Virginia Beach, he shared his insights about what's been happening in his career as of late.

Early summer's George Strait Country Music Festival swept through the nation, with McGraw opening for Strait. "There's a lot of fun on that tour because it's so easy for us," he said. "We just play an hour before George gets on and get to just sit back, watch him play, and drink a beer."

While on the road right now, McGraw performs well over that hour set and he always comes around with an exciting opening act. The Dixie Chicks went out on the road for several dates.

"They've been really terrific," he said. "I tell ya, it's been fun going on stage after they're finished with their show."

An evening on "The Place in the Sun" tour is a mix of greatest hits and new material. "When times are really good [on stage], you want to go on forever. ... Everything's just been pretty wild," he said. "The crowd's on its feet and going nuts the whole time. It's been fun all the way around."

Fans are most certainly familiar with new tracks like the smash "Please Remember Me," plus future hits like "Carry On," "Some Things Never Change" and "My Best Friend."

"Please Remember Me" follows a pattern of powerful ballads from McGraw like past gems "One of These Days," "Don't Take the Girl" and "It's Your Love," a song with his wife Faith Hill, another chart-topping country singer.

Although it may seem like there is a pattern to each album, "it just happens that way. You just pick the best songs and ones that you feel like you can deliver well," said McGraw. "You hope that you have a couple of signature songs, not necessarily a ballad. I try to pick every song as a single. You never know which one's going to [make it]."

McGraw doesn't have to worry about making it with each single. He already has those 12 No. 1, 5 more top 10s, and 13 music videos, including the No. 1 Country Music Television (CMT) video of all time with "It's Your Love." "You just feel pressured to get better," he said. "You just want to get better as an artist and cut a better record. You hope that commercially everything would be as good [as the last project.]"

"I don't spend a lot of time writing, but just a lot of listening to try to find songs that are the best, as long as I feel like I like I can do it well," he added.

Some of McGraw's songs have a party theme; others are love songs; still others are even more introspective.

"There are songs that talk about things that are spiritual," he said. "[When selecting], I'm definitely not going to sing about something I don't believe in."

With so many accolades and accomplishments, of course, comes more creative control, rather than projects produced using record company formulas.

"The best thing about having a lot of fans is that they'll go buy your records," McGraw said. "It gives you a certain amount of freedom to kind of cut records how you want to cut it."

McGraw has pretty much been there and done that when it comes to sold-out shows, top tunes and honors and shares what he has learned.

"[The business] certainly has its glamorous side, like being on award shows, but you're on the road pretty much on a bus driving and doing a show. The hardest part is keeping up with friends, but my wife and I would have never met each other if we didn't have the careers that allowed us to."



8/11/99