5 Songs You Didn’t Know Tim McGraw Wrote for Himself and One Other Artist

Tim McGraw always knows a good song when he hears it. His discriminate ear for lyrics has helped him earn three Grammy Awards, 26 No. 1 singles on the country chart, and four chart-topping albums. It has also made him cut other writer’s songs over many of his own throughout the decades.

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“Those that know me know that I write, but I rarely cut stuff that I write,” said McGraw. “If I write something, I’m pretty hard on it. I write for every album, but I always put the song first. The song’s gotta win and that’s just the way I am. And mine’s gonna have to really just scratch my eyeballs out to make me cut it, ’cause I’m so hard on myself with it.”

Along with a collection of songwriters that have worked with him since his 1993 debut through his 16th album Standing Room Only in 2023, McGraw has also penned a handful of his own songs. “I Will Not Fall Down,” “Keep on Truckin’,” “Train #10,” and “I’ve Got Friends That Do,” are just a few of the tracks the singer has written and released himself.

[RELATED: The 23 best Tim McGraw Quotes]

In between acting, first starring in the 2004 drama Friday Night Lights and The Blind Side, and most recently alongside wife Faith Hill as James Dutton in the TV series 1883, McGraw’s musical collaborators have also spanned work with Hill. McGraw worked on the couple’s 2017 album The Rest of Our Life along with Tony Bennett, Kenny Rogers, Lionel Richie, Randy Travis, Jo Dee Messina, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gwyneth Paltrow, Nelly, Ed Sheeran, and Meghan Trainor on other projects.

Looking into some of the songs McGraw penned over the years, here are five he had a hand in writing since the mid-2000s.

1. “If You’re Reading This(2006)
Written by Tim McGraw, Brad Warren, Brett Warren

McGraw’s ninth album Let It Go features seven top 20 hits on the country chart. Those tracks include the Big Kenny-penned No. 1 “Last Dollar (Fly Away)” and his duet with Hill, “I Need You,” which peaked at No. 8.

He also featured a live performance of “If You’re Reading This” from the 2007 Academy of Country Music Awards. “If You’re Reading This,” a song honoring families who have lost someone in the military, gained so much attention on radio that it was released as a single and went to No. 3 on the country chart.

If you’re reading this
My Mommas sittin there
Looks like I only got a one way ticket over here
Sure wish I
Could give you one more kiss
And war was just a game we played when we were kids

I’m laying down my gun
I’m hanging up boots
I’m up here with God and we’re both watching over you

2. “My Little Girl” (2006)
Written by Tim McGraw and Tom Douglas

In 2006, Tim McGraw’s Reflected: Greatest Hits Vol. 2 features three songs he co-wrote, including his Nelly collaboration, “Over and Over” and “My Little Girl.” The latter track reached No. 3 on the country chart and was featured in the film Flicka, which also stars McGraw.

When you were in trouble that crooked little smile could melt my heart of stone
Now look at you, I’ve turned around and you’ve almost grown
Sometimes you’re asleep I whisper “I love you” in the moonlight at your door
As I walk away, I hear you say, “Daddy, love you more”

You beautiful baby from the outside
Chase your dreams but always know the road that’ll lead you home again
Go on, take on this whole world but to me, you know you’ll always be
My little girl

3. “Over and Over” with Nelly (2006)
Written by Tim McGraw, Nelly, Jason Bridges, James D. “Sted Fast” Hargroves II

One of the other tracks on Reflected: Greatest Hits Vol. 2 was “Over and Over.” A duet with Nelly, the song went to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at No. 7 on the Hot Rap Songs chart. Prior to McGraw releasing the song, the rapper featured the track on his 2004 album Suit.

I can’t wait to see you
want to see if you still got that
Look in your eye
That one you had for me
Before we said our goodbyes
And it’s a shame that we
Gotta spend our time
Being mad about the same things
Over and over again
About the same thing
Over and over again

4. “Lovin’ Lately,” Big & Rich, featuring Tim McGraw (2014)
Written by Tim McGraw, John Rich, Big Kenny

When country duo Big & Rich, made up of Big Kenny and John Rich, were working on their fifth album, Gravity, they brought in a handful of co-writers. One of those collaborators included McGraw, who co-wrote the single “Lovin’ Lately.” The song, which also features McGraw, hit the Top 20 on the country chart.  

Rich also co-wrote “Sunshine and Summertime” and “Mississippi Girl,” on Faith Hill’s 2006 album Fireflies, along with McGraw’s 2015 song “California,” which features Big & Rich. Big Kenny wrote “Last Dollar (Fly Away)” on McGraw’s 2007 album Let It Go, which went to No. 1 on the country chart.

[RELATED: Top 10 Big & Rich Songs]

“I don’t think there’s anyone more iconic than Tim McGraw when it comes to a career,” said Rich. “He’s Hall of Fame bound. He’s such a big star, but on top of that, he’s actually our friend. Big Kenny wrote a No. 1 song for him a few years back, and I’ve written a couple of big songs for Faith Hill. And with that friendship and touring with Tim over the years to come full circle and record a song like ‘Lovin’ Lately’ and get it on the radio and see the fans react to it so strongly, the whole thing is just a high five every time we get around Tim.”

Out with my friends and here it goes again
Somebody asks me where you’re at
I don’t know what to say, I’ve tried you everyday
It’s been so long since you’ve called
I’ll bet your having a real good time,
But I hate to think of what you’re doing tonight,
And who you’re holding close I don’t really wanna know

Who you’ve been lovin’ lately
Who you’ve been callin’ baby
Who you’ve been runnin’ around in this tell all town
I guess you’ve finally got the best of me
I guess you thought I’d never see

5. “Nashville CA/L.A. Tennessee,” featuring Lori McKenna (2023)
Written by Tim McGraw, Lori McKenna, Bob Minner

For McGraw’s 16th album, Standing Room Only, Lori McKenna co-wrote two songs, the closing “Letter From Heaven” with Chase McGill and Parker Welling, and one more track with McGraw and Bob Minner called “Nashville CA/L.A. Tennessee.” McKenna also appears on the acoustic-led track about the transience and lonesomeness of fame and being on the road.

Standing Room Only also features a select group of key songwriters, including Seth Mosley, Drake Milligan, and Tim Nichols, among others.

“As an artist, I always want to dig deeper and get better every time I make a new record,” said McGraw in a statement. “It’s a big part of what drives me, and I really believe this is one of the best projects we’ve made. I’ve been working on this album since 2020, and this collection of songs are some of the most emotional, thought-provoking, and life-affirming music I’ve ever recorded.”

I left Louisiana for a fifty thousand watt antenna
On a sinner’s prayer, three chords, and the truth
All them states got your name
Greyhound bus and a walk of fame
It’s a hard lesson in what distance can do

If God made the two cities closer
I’d be right beside you
But then where would the Grand Canyon be
I’ll meet you in Nashville, California
Or L.A. Tennessee

Photo: Robby Klein / Courtesy of Full Coverage

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