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"Tim McGraw" is the debut single of American country pop artist Taylor Swift. She was sixteen years old when she debuted with the song, which she co-wrote with Liz Rose. The song tells of Taylor's remembrance of a summer love, and how an un-named song by country music artist Tim McGraw (identified later on as "Can't Tell Me Nothin'" from his Live Like You Were Dying album[1]) brings back memories of that love.

Swift has said she wrote the song during math class in high school. The song, she says, is about her and her boyfriend, when he was moving away to go to college, and they would eventually have to break up. Taylor goes on to say, "I started thinking of all the things that reminded me of him."

Lyrics, history, and content

The idea for the song came to Taylor during math class. "The song means so much to me and that's why we wanted it to be the first track on the album," Swift said. The song, which appears to be centered on a summer romance is actually about her boyfriend who moved away. Sitting in her math class she just started to sing to herself "When you think Tim McGraw" over and over. Soon after she left the classroom and recorded a voice memo about the song. After school she went downtown with her co-writer Liz Rose, sat down at the piano and they had finished the song within 15 minutes.

Swift said, "I wrote the song in my freshman year of high school. I was dating a guy who was about to go off to college. I knew we were going to break up so I started thinking of all the things that I knew would remind him of me. Surprisingly, the first thing that came to mind was that my favorite country artist is Tim McGraw."[2]

Music video

The accompanying music video for "Tim McGraw" was directed by Trey Fanjoy.[3] In regards to the video's concept, Swift stated, "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."[4] Clayton Collins portrayed Swift's love interest in the music video. He was cast because of his physical resemblance to the real subject of the song, in that they were both tall with dark hair.[5] The video begins with Swift, dressed by 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 video premiered on July 22, 2006 on Great American Country. The video received a nomination for "Number One Streamed Video From a New Artist (Rookie of the Year Award)" at the web-hosted 2006 CMT Online Awards, but lost to Lindsey Haun's video for "Broken".[6] At the 2007 CMT Music Awards, the video won the CMT Music Award for "Breakthrough Video of the Year".[7] To date, the video has over 37 million views on YouTube.

Taylor Swift - Tim McGraw

Taylor Swift - Tim McGraw

Chart performance

The song debuted at #60 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, and spent 26 weeks on the chart before reaching a peak of #6.[8] The song also peaked at #40 on the Hot 100 chart, the first of thirteen consecutive top forty hits as well as the first of her twenty charted hits in the last three years.

Chart (2006-2007) Peak position
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs 6
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 40
Canadian Radio & Records Country Singles 10

Alternate versions

On the album version of the song, the first stanzas are sung a second time at the end; the radio edit ends after the last chorus.

The line "Someday you'll turn your radio on" in the final chorus was altered in some markets, with "your radio" being replaced with either the name of the radio station or some popular show or host featured on that station. A similar change was made for the song on Bob Kingsley's Country Top 40, a radio countdown show, wherein the line was altered to "And turn the Bob Kingsley Countdown on." When Swift performed at Wembley Arena in 2009, she changed these lyrics to "Turn London radio on."

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
He said the way my blue eyes shined
Put those Georgia stars to shame that night
I said, "That's a lie"
Just a boy in a Chevy truck
That had a tendency of gettin' stuck
On backroads at night
And I was right there beside him all summer long
And then the time we woke up to find that summer gone

[Chorus]
But when you think Tim McGraw
I hope you think my favorite song
The one we danced to all night long
The moon like a spotlight on the lake
When you think happiness
I hope you think that little black dress
Think of my head on your chest
And my old faded blue jeans
When you think Tim McGraw
I hope you think of me

[Verse 2]
September saw a month of tears
And thankin' God that you weren't here
To see me like that
But in a box beneath my bed
Is a letter that you never read
From three summers back
It's hard not to find it all a little bittersweet
And lookin' back on all of that, it's nice to believe

[Chorus]
When you think Tim McGraw
I hope you think my favorite song
The one we danced to all night long
The moon like a spotlight on the lake
When you think happiness
I hope you think that little black dress
Think of my head on your chest
And my old faded blue jeans
When you think Tim McGraw
I hope you think of me

[Bridge]
And I'm back for the first time since then
I'm standin' on your street
And there's a letter left on your doorstep
And the first thing that you'll read is:
"When you think Tim McGraw
I hope you think my favorite song
Someday you'll turn your radio on
I hope it takes you back to that place"

[Chorus]
When you think happiness
I hope you think that little black dress
Think of my head on your chest
And my old faded blue jeans
When you think Tim McGraw
I hope you think of me
Oh, think of me
Mmmm

[Outro]
He said the way my blue eyes shine
Put those Georgia stars to shame that night
I said, "That's a lie"

References