15 Years Ago Today: Tim McGraw’s ‘Live Like You Were Dying’ Reaches No. 1
Tim McGraw was already a country superstar when he essentially re-invented his career with the success of "Live Like You Were Dying." The song hit No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart on July 17, 2004, and stayed there for seven weeks.
Top Nashville songwriters Tim Nichols and Craig Wiseman wrote the song, inspired by a friend who had received an incorrect cancer diagnosis. They started talking about how friends and family who had been diagnosed with serious illnesses often gained a new perspective on life, and the pair have both said that they knew they had written something special when they finished it. They demoed "Live Like You Were Dying" within days, and upon hearing it, McGraw decided to make it not only his next single, but the title song of his eighth studio album.
The song describes the transformation of a man who has received terrible health news and decided to pack whatever amount of life he can into the time he has left.
"I went skydiving / I went Rocky Mountain climbing / I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu / And I loved deeper / And I spoke sweeter / And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying / And he said, 'I hope someday you get the chance to live like you were dying,'" McGraw sings in the chorus. McGraw's own father, Tug McGraw, died on Jan. 5, 2004, giving the singer an even deeper connection to the song.
McGraw's long career had already given him hits including "Don't Take the Girl," "I Like It, I Love It," "Please Remember Me" and many more. "Live Like You Were Dying" took him to a whole new place in his career, completing the transition into a more serious phase of his recording choices that had begun with songs including "Grown Men Don't Cry," "Angry All the Time," "The Cowboy in Me" and "Red Rag Top."
"Live Like You Were Dying" took home Single of the Year and Song of the Year at both the 2004 CMA Awards and ACM Awards, and it also won Grammys for Best Country Song and Best Male Country Vocal Performance.
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