We’ve rounded up 10 Tim McGraw songs that show the full arc of the country singer’s incredible career thus far. 22 years into his musical career, Tim McGraw is a country megastar with 13 albums to his name, 11 of which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard chart. He has also been the recipient of over 40 industry and fan-voted awards through the years.
In addition to his impressive musical success, McGraw has also crossed into television and movies with ease, making everyone wonder if there is anything that this man can’t do.
A lot can change in 22 years, and luckily for us there is a musical journey map for McGraw’s ever-changing sound. We’ve pulled 10 Tim McGraw songs that showcase his musical path so far, which is likely only the first half of his career if he continues to evolve his sound with the changes in country music.
10. “Indian Outlaw” 1994 – Not A Moment Too Soon
Tim McGraw’s first charting song launched him in the spotlight, although not always with positive reviews. Although not his debut single, “Indian Outlaw” was the fist song to put Tim McGraw on the map as a newcomer in country music. It was his first Top 40 hit and was the fastest-rising country single since “Achy Breaky Heart” , but was also the focus of national criticism, with many considering it’s lyrics to be stereotypical and offensive to the Native American people. In response to the criticisms, several stations stopped playing the song, but whether positive or negative, the nationwide chatter made Tim McGraw a household name.
2. “Don’t Take the Girl” 1994 – Not a Moment Too Soon
McGraw’s first No. 1 single, “Don’t Take the Girl,” took Nashville by storm and melted hearts with the love story of a boy named Johnny and the evolution of his love for a girl. In his earlier years, McGraw’s sound had quite a bit more twang than his music today and he was sporting the ever-so-popular mullet hairstyle that was all the rage in the early 90s.
3. “I Like It, I Love It” 1995 – All I Want
A simple song with a man describing how much he likes a girl, “I Like It, I Love It” has one of the catchiest choruses in country music history. The song is fun, upbeat and smart, and with its success, there was no denying that McGraw was a country superstar in the making.
4. “It’s Your Love” 1997 – Everywhere
Teaming up with his incredibly talented wife, Faith Hill, “It’s Your Love” showcased a sweet, vulnerable side of McGraw as he sang this love song with his wife. When they sing together they have a way of making you feel like you are part of a private moment between the two and this duet positioned Tim and Faith as country music’s newest royal couple. The song earned the duo ACM awards for Single of the Year, Song of the Year, Video of the Year and Vocal Event of the Year, as well as a CMA for Vocal Event of the Year.
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5. “Just to See You Smile” 1997– Everywhere
A record-breaking song that spent 42 weeks on the Billboard chart, “Just to See You Smile,” embodies pure happiness and continues the successful trend of Tim McGraw songs about love. The sweet lyrics are complimented by the instrumentation and McGraw’s pure vocals, which are significantly less twangy than only a few years ago.
6. “The Cowboy in Me” 2001– Set This Circus Down
Another No. 1 hit for McGraw’s catalog, “The Cowboy in Me” is an anthem for many a country boy with a bad streak. With the focus primarily on McGraw’s exposed vocals, the message to be happy with yourself and come to terms with things you cannot change resonated with audiences everywhere, male and female alike, for this smash hit.
7. “Real Good Man” 2003 – Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors
Only Mr. Tim McGraw can sing this song dripping with self-confidence and sound so good. McGraw touts that he is a “bad boy,” but also a “real good man” in this self-proclaimed “redneck” song that topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart.
8. “Live Like You Were Dying” 2004 – Live Like You Were Dying
Already a country megastar, the song “Live Like You Were Dying” continued to solidify McGraw’s mark on country music and his connection with audiences worldwide. An emotional song that mirrored his personal experience with his father Tug McGraw, he touched millions of fans with the story of a man who’s father is diagnosed with a terminal illness and his view on life changes to enjoy every moment and “Live Like You Were Dying.”
9. “Over and Over” 2004 – Live Like You Were Dying
McGraw joined forces with rapper and R&B star Nelly, for the song “Over and Over” which hit No. 1 on the Billboard Pop Songs Chart, obtaining immense crossover success. An unexpected pairing, “Over and Over” showed that McGraw was unstoppable and could step out of the box musically, even though the result was not well received by critics.
10. “Shotgun Rider” – Sundown Heaven Town
McGraw’s most recent smash hit, “Shotgun Rider”, is his longest-running No. 1 song in more than 10 years, proving that in 2015 he is once again back on top. Avoiding the magnetic “bro-country” trend, McGraw has stayed reliable bringing fresh music but honoring the traditional country sound that everyone craves.
Honorary Mentions: “Southern Voice,” “Where The Green Grass Grows,” “Damn Country Music,” “It’s a Business Doing Pleasure with You,” “My Best Friend,” “Memory Lane,” “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools,” “Refried Dreams,” “My Next Thirty Years,” “My Old Friend,” “Red Ragtop,” “Tiny Dancer,” “Annie I Owe You a Dance”