Tyler Hubbard and Tim McGraw Join Forces to Lift Spirits With “Undivided”

Tyler Hubbard is known for writing numerous feel-good hit songs for Florida Georgia Line (his band with Brian Kelley) and for other artists. With “Undivided,” the new single that Hubbard recorded with Tim McGraw, he says he was actually trying to lift his own spirits. (The song, which came out on January 13, will be included on the deluxe version of McGraw’s Here on Earth album, due for release later this spring on Big Machine Records.)

“Quite frankly, I feel like it was a message that I needed to hear myself, to be honest,” Hubbard tells American Songwriter of the positive message in “Undivided.” “It was October of last year and I had COVID. I was in quarantine on the tour bus in my driveway. I was twelve days by myself, alone with my thoughts, and over the course of that time I wrote ten songs. This is one of those.”

Hubbard brought the song to McGraw, who says he immediately connected with it. “The song, it hits you right away,” McGraw says. “It makes you feel good. A song that’s timely, that’s written so well, and has a positive energy to it is really tough to find. I knew I loved it and I knew that it needed to be out there. 

“The main thing is, it made me do an introspective self-examination about what was going on in my life and my world and how I was reacting to it,” McGraw continues. “It’s easy to go down a negative road on all the things that are happening, and there are plenty of people who do that and plenty of reasons to do that. But somebody’s got to raise their hand and say, ‘I’m going to try to be a light.’ That’s what I wanted to try to be for myself, first and foremost, and then secondly so my kids could feel it, because it’s a tough time.”

Hubbard says the idea to write this type of uplifting song came from his wife. “[She] said, ‘You know, you should write another song that kind of feels like ‘May We All,’ that just makes you feel good,’” he says, referencing Florida Georgia Line’s 2016 hit, on which McGraw also performed. “So I reached out to a buddy of mine, Chris Loocke, who’s a great writer and a great producer, and I said, ‘Hey, can you make a track that kind of channels this energy?’”

After putting Loocke on the case, Hubbard says, “I started writing—the chorus came to me one night. The very next day, Chris sent me this track, and I matched the two together and it was a perfect match. Then the next day, I chipped away at the verses and laid those down. It was just a really fun process. I feel like it was a gift from God—it was a very easy song to write.”

When he heard what Hubbard and Loocke had written, McGraw says he didn’t hesitate to sign on to sing it, especially because working on “May We All” meant he knew he and Hubbard “had a good chemistry. I knew Tyler—I knew where his heart was. I didn’t feel like we’d have any problem working together. And we didn’t: we had a blast doing it.”

Now that “Undivided” is out, Hubbard says he hopes that the song’s optimism will help listeners get through these difficult times, as well. “A lot of times, music is my therapy, so when a song like that comes to me, it feels more therapeutic,” he says. “I hope that [it’ll] in some way give people hope.”

McGraw agrees with that sentiment: “Look, there are plenty of things in the world that we can rail against and there are plenty of people railing against them,” he says, “and I’m all for fighting racism and fighting against intolerance of people with different sexual orientations. But having a song that’s positive and uplifting, those things are not mutually exclusive. I’m not a brain surgeon and I’m not a rocket scientist. I’m not going to go out and cure cancer. But I can offer you a song that can make you feel better about life, hopefully.”

It does seem that “Undivided” is being received as Hubbard and McGraw have hoped, given that it promptly entered the Top 20 on the Billboard U.S. Country Airplay chart. It also led to an invitation for them to perform the track at President Biden’s inauguration ceremony. “It’s been an incredible journey—that song already created so many cool opportunities,” Hubbard says. “It’s such a blessing and it’s been fun to be a part of it. A real honor. I’m thankful for music and thankful for the fans and thankful for this song.”

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