“Live Like You Were Dying” is a Tim McGraw classic.
And recently, Tim had Matthew McConaughey on Apple music’sBeyond The Influence Radioand they talked about Matthew’s decision to stop doing rom-coms, why they both wanted to become fathers, and Tim also got into the personal story behind his #1 hit “Live Like You Were Dying”.
Released in 2004, it was the lead single and title track from his 8th studio album of the same name. Written by Tim Nichols and Craig Wiseman, they were inspired after a close friend of theirs was diagnosed with cancer.
It went on to become #1 song on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, and it’s one of Tim’s best songs in my opinion.
As it turns out, the track came at a time when he was struggling with a similar situation in his personal life after his dad got diagnosed with cancer:
“‘Live Like You Were Dying’ was one of those songs that came at a very traumatic time in my life. It showed up and was sent to me in the middle of my father’s diagnosis of glioblastoma brain cancer and going through all of his treatments.
He stayed at my cabin out at the farm and we were spending a lot of nights out there with my uncle and my brother just hanging out, listening to music, and watching football games.
We spent a couple of weeks there before he passed away in the bedroom there in the cabin.”
He had the demo already, and had been debating on when the right time would be to actually record it since he was still processing everything that was going on with his dad.
He almost didn’t even record it all because he didn’t want people to think he was manipulating the situation and trying to get sympathy from others in releasing this song:
“During that time, I had been listening to ‘Live Like You Were Dying’, the demo, and knowing I was going to record it. I never played it for him because I just didn’t… I just felt like it maybe wasn’t the right thing to do.
In fact, I almost didn’t record the song because I certainly didn’t want anyone to think that I was playing to what was going on with my father.”
I don’t know if anyone would’ve thought that, especially because the best music always comes out of people’s real life circumstances and feelings.
And in hindsight, it’s obvious that this song touched on a topic that a lot of people could relate to.
Eventually, after his father passed away, Tim decided to go ahead and record it because it felt like the right thing to do to honor him. He knew his dad would’ve gotten a kick out of being at a concert and knowing the song was about him.
“I’m sure that he would love it. We recorded this song in Upstate New York. About three o’clock in the morning, my Uncle Hank was there, my dad’s older brother, and we had been recording all day.
And about three o’clock in the morning, I looked around at the band. I said, ‘I think it’s time to do this song.'”
So, they did just that and it ended up being an incredibly special moment for Tim and his family.
Plus, the country classic that is “Live Like You Were Dying” was born:
“We spent the next three hours up until sun up recording this song and my uncle collapsed in a couch crying every time we did a pass of it.
That’s got to be one of the most special memories I have of making any music anywhere.”