On “Southern Voice,” Tim McGraw”s 10th studio album, the country superstar explores what it means to come from below the Mason Dixon line. But like any southerner, he knows it is a state of mind as much as a geographic destination.
“When you”re born in the south, it”s just something you grow up feeing,” he says. “It”s hard to put into words to other people, but a lot has to do with our history, Southern people”s history. It”s sort of a sordid history. It”s a history of hard work, a history of some bad decisions, a history of family. What it feels to me is this unique ability to sort of empathize with people and I think it comes from some of the bad things in our past, slavery and segregation, and all of those things.”
The title track, which name checks a number of famous southerners, is climbing the charts and could turn into McGraw”s latest No. 1. “It said a lot about who I was and a lot about what I did,” he says. “I think it was just more of an all encompassing statement about me as an artist than it was [just] about a song.”
I interviewed McGraw for the Washington Post and have linked to that story here, as well as added some exclusive content for Hitfix. In one of our amusing exchanges, McGraw was calling from a cell phone. He”d stepped outside from a writing session in order not to bother the other songwriters and the blowing wind was making it difficult for me to hear. I kept asking him to move to more sheltered locations until he finally crawled inside his car. I apologized for being so demanding. Without missing a beat-and in a line I”m sure he”s used almost daily-he quipped, “I live in a house full of women. I”m used to it.”
Speaking of, McGraw has gotten used to the privacy intrusions that come with fame, but there”s one that still rankles him: the constant speculation and almost morbid glee in comes from wondering if he and wife, Faith Hill, are going to split: “It sort of confounds me sometimes the whole build you up, tear you down thing that goes on, especially with my wife and I being together,” he says. “It seems like that there”s always been sort of we loved ya”ll being together but now that you”re together and you”re happy, we”d much rather you guys stayed together for two or three years and have this terrible breakup and had a lot of great songs that come out of it.”
More from McGraw when we get closer to the release of his new movie,”The Blind Side,” with Sandra Bullock. The feel-good film is based on the true story of a family that takes in a disadvantaged youth.