Release date: August 2004
Live Like You Were Dying is the 8th studio album by American country music artist Tim McGraw. It was released on August 24, 2004 via Curb Records and was recorded in a mountaintop studio in upstate New York. It debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 with sales of 766,000 copies in its first week. The album was certified 4 x Platinum by the RIAA for shipping four million copies, and was nominated for 2 Grammys in 2005 for Best Country Vocal Performance Male and Best Country Album, winning for Best Country Vocal Performance. Five singles were released from the album, all were top 15 hits on the Hot Country Songs chart, two of which hit #1.
The CD's first single and title track, "Live Like You Were Dying," became one of his fastest-to-the-top singles ever. The Tim Nichols/Craig Wiseman-penned smash is, among other things, testament to Tim's long-proven ability to tap Nashville's best writers for their most profound and touching work.
"It's just a great song," he says. "Probably anybody could have recorded it and had a big hit, but it helps that we're in a great place in our career--things just seem to keep getting better. Five years ago I figured we were at the top of our game and that was the best it was going to get, but with every album it seems to keep on building on itself."
"Using the band on the records brings a new kind of honesty to the sound and makes what we do on stage that much purer to the vision we had originally," he says. "It is also a huge comfort being in the studio with those guys and singing to their tracks. We brought a confidence level into recording this time. We knew we could make a great record because we had the confidence of the last album. We were then able to go further, take it to another level. " That comfort and honesty show throughout the 16-song collection (there is also a bonus track). Drawing on some of the genre's best writers, including Rodney Crowell, Bruce Robison, Casey Beathard, Anthony Smith, Bob DiPiero and Don Schlitz, Tim and the Doctors journey through a range of styles and emotions, with their years as a working unit holding it all together. Tim, long-time producer Byron Gallimore and second-time producer/Dancehall Doctor Darran Smith produced the record and for the first time Tim and Byron mixed it as well to maintain a sound that was true to the visions of the band.
"This record has a really personal feel to it," he says. "It's almost a tapestry of life, not just for us but in general, and I think a lot of people will be able to relate to it, and will be able to jump into this record and flow downstream with it."
That ability to connect emotionally with an audience is on display throughout Live Like You Were Dying. It's an ability that begins with his selection process. "'Walk Like A Man,' for instance, is a song that probably hits home with a lot of people," he says. "It certainly touches on some of my growing up. It's a really personal song in a lot of ways, but you can say there's something personal about every song." Other favorites include "Back When," "Blank Sheet Of Paper," written by his friends the Warren Brothers with Don Schlitz ("That's one of the most unique angles I've ever heard in a song, from the point of view of a blank sheet of paper") and "Kill Myself," which Tim describes as "probably my favorite song I've ever done."
"My Old Friend" has become a concert highlight, thanks to an accompanying video presentation. "My friend Danny Knight, an Army chaplain I met through Faith, began sending us really cool pictures when he was in Afghanistan and then Iraq," says Tim. "We matched a lot of them up with the song, and putting them in the show makes for a great moment. It says something cool about Danny, and it's a tribute to a friend who puts his life on the line." It is the kind of moment that has long defined Tim, both in concert and on CD.