Country Flashback: Tim McGraw Released His First No. 1 Single “Don’t Take the Girl” on This Day in 1994

On this day (March 28) in 1994, Tim McGraw released “Don’t Take the Girl” as the second single from his sophomore album Not a Moment Too Soon. The song went on to be his first No. 1 single. Additionally, it signaled the beginning of McGraw’s rise to stardom and domination of the radio waves throughout the ‘90s and beyond.

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McGraw saw some chart success before releasing “Don’t Take the Girl” as his sixth overall single. His debut outing “What Room Was the Holiday In” failed to chart. His next three singles—“Welcome to the Club,” “Memory Lane,” and “Two Steppin’ Mind”—all missed the top 40. Then, he released “Indian Outlaw” which peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Since releasing his first No. 1, McGraw has launched more than 30 songs to the top of the Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts.

[RELATED: The Meaning Behind “Don’t Take The Girl” by Tim McGraw]

“Don’t Take the Girl” also gave McGraw his second hit on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart. It peaked at No. 17, two slots lower than “Indian Outlaw.”

More About Tim McGraw’s First Chart-Topper

Craig Martin and Larry Johnson co-wrote the song. The sentimental ballad is a stellar example of the storytelling that makes country music stand out from other genres. While seemingly a simple song, it tells a deep story about growing up, falling in love, and weathering the highs and lows of life. At the same time, it became a stand-out example of the ‘90s country sound that so many current artists are attempting to replicate.

The Story Behind “Don’t Take the Girl”

The song represents an early high point in Tim McGraw’s career. However, Martin wrote the bulk of the song during a low point in his. He had a recording contract with Mercury Records as well as a publishing deal. He also had a great girlfriend. However, things in his professional life were starting to fall apart when he set pen to paper on “Don’t Take the Girl.”

“I wrote this song at a point when everything kind of went south,” he said in a YouTube video. “I started getting a little depressed but I had a brand-new girlfriend at the time. She was beautiful and still is. Still very beautiful and just as beautiful on the inside,” he recalled. He went on to say that he came home after recording and sat on the couch, feeling down. To cheer him up, his girlfriend was going to make homemade pizza.

As he sat on the couch, watching her cook, he started to pray. “I was thinking about how this record deal was going and I was kind of talking under my breath to God and I thought, ‘You can take this record deal or this great publishing deal that I had at the time or any of my possessions. Take any of it but just don’t take her.’ She was that important to me,” he recalled. That thought, combined with a melody he had in his head became the bones of “Don’t Take the Girl.” He wrote the bulk of the song that night.

Some time later, he met up with Johnson for a writing appointment. After hours of not being able to come up with anything new, Martin threw out the beginning of “Don’t Take the Girl.” They finished it quickly. Then, they went to a club in Hendersonville, Tennessee to debut the song during a writers’ night.

Before playing the song in the video, Martin said, “Thank you Tim McGraw for making this a big hit. Thank you Larry Johnson for being a part of it. I really appreciate that.”

Featured Image by Jason Kempin/Getty Images

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