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This Mark Irwin, Josh Kear, Brad and Brett Warren penned tune features harmony vocals from McGraw's labelmate Taylor Swift whilst Keith Urban adds some guitar licks. "Those are two of my favorite artists," McGraw told Billboard magazine. "Keith and I had talked about recording a song together - something he could play guitar on, it was just finding the right song that worked. When I got the demo, I knew I wanted Taylor's voice on this song. When she came in and sang it, it could not have been better, and to have them both on it is great. I think this song would have been something I would have wanted whether anybody had sang on it. The fact that they are on it makes it really special."
Lyrically, the song is a take on freedom tinged with regret. "There's a sultriness to it," McGraw told Billboard. "Taylor sang her ass off on that thing. This was also one of the first songs I found for this album, and I knew instantly I wanted Taylor on it. The great thing about that song is the perspective it's told from, her voice is the song coming through the radio."
Taylor Swift's debut single was "Tim McGraw
," in which she disclosed that a song by its namesake was her favorite song during an early romance. Swift is heard on this cut as a voice on the radio as the protagonist is driving. making it something of an answer song to "Tim McGraw." "It does tie back to the same sort of theme that her song had," McGraw admitted Radio.com
. "I don't know that I've ever thought about it that way."
The song is featured as track 13 on the Deluxe Version of Two Lanes Of Freedom in honor of Taylor Swift and her famous favorite number.
The artists' recording sessions were all done separately with McGraw the last to add his voice. "When we got it back, it was pretty spectacular. Taylor's voice on there, she just really nailed it," he told The Boot
. And Keith's guitar playing ... I don't think you'll find a more talented guy around."
Brad Warren told Roughstock
that the part they wrote for the girl, "is just the voice on the radio." He explained: "It's about the person you're singing about in the song or singing to in the song is driving down the road. It says 'and the song says' and she comes in with 'I can't live without you, baby.'
"We wrote the girl's part as just the voice on the radio," continued Warren. "It's not actually part of the lyrics; it's just looked at as a voice on the radio. Then it kicks into the regular chorus. That's one of those tricks you learn when you've been around for 20 years [laughs]! We've written all the way to the wall of goodness, and now we're on our way back ... so it's getting worse."
Brad Warren noted to Roughstock that they did write the song as a duet. "Of course you think I want Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift to do this as you're writing it," he said, "but that usually doesn't work out. So it's really cool that this was it."
The song's music video was directed by Shane Drake (Little Big Town's "Tornado
"), and features Taylor Swift and Keith Urban as a young girl's guardian angels. The clip doubles as a public service announcement about the dangers of texting while driving and the heartache that can come as a result. The visual's thoughtful imagery was inspired by Terrence Malick films, while McGraw's teenage daughters were largely the inspiration behind the video's treatment. "I'm not gonna stand on a soap box and tell everybody how they should live their lives and what you should and shouldn't do," McGraw said. "It just felt like it was the right opportunity. It really meant something for me to say it because I do have teenage daughters, so it wouldn't be like just throwing a message out there for the hell of throwing a message out there."
The track set a record for single week audience impressions with 41.3 million during the May 27-June 2, 2013 Nielsen BDS tracking week. It was the biggest weekly audience sum since the Country Airplay chart switched to audience-based rankings in January 2005.
The song topped the Billboard country chart. It was McGraw's 34th career #1 single.
This won both Musical Event of the Year and Video of the Year at the 2013 CMA Awards.
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