Tim McGraw Explains Why He Made ‘Standing Room Only’ So Positive

No one is more ready than Tim McGraw to have his new album Standing Room Only, out in the world. The record has been three years in the making, a project that began at the height of the pandemic, a challenging time for everyone, which ultimately served as the inspiration for the entire record.

“I started working on this pretty much right after our last album, Here on Earth, came out right in the middle of the pandemic,” McGraw says on The Morning Show. “What else was I going to do? You couldn’t do anything else, so I was just working on the music. My process usually starts where, I have an idea of the kind of music I want to make. And certainly, because of the period of time that we were all going through, I started out with that mindset that I wanted to write something positive, and I wanted to have some positive stuff on my record.”

The Louisiana native has one song, “Nashville CA/L.A. Tennessee,” he wrote for Standing Room Only, which was inspired by moving his eldest daughter, Gracie, to Los Angeles. He intended to write more, but discovered his songwriter friends had a better way of saying a lot of what he was trying to convey.

“I started writing songs. I’ll get two or three done, and I’ll think, ‘This is heading in the right direction. This is pretty good,'” McGraw recalls. “And sure enough, a songwriter friend of mine will send me a song, and it will say what I was saying in the song that I was writing, but it would say it so much better. So I’m like, ‘Well, there goes that one. There goes that one.’ I ended up getting songs that blew mine out of the park. But one of mine made the record.”

McGraw is currently enjoying a hit single with the record’s title track. But there’s another one on the project, “Hey Whiskey,” that is also, rightfully, getting plenty of buzz, a song that touches on McGraw’s ongoing sobriety journey.

“It’s not a linear process, for sure,” McGraw says of his decision to be sober.  “There’s always setbacks. But this song is very personal for me, in recording it. I just loved what it said and how it said it, and how it made whiskey a character in the song. It made it your best friend and your nemesis at the same time. When we recorded that, we had been in the studio for probably a week. We were recording all day, every day. But that song in particular, my voice was completely shredded. I was tired, and we were trying to get one more song in for the night before everybody went home.

“We decided to do ‘Hey Whiskey,'” he continues. “So the vocal you hear on the track was the very first time that we ran through it. I didn’t think I was going to be able to sing at all, ’cause my voice was so shot. And then I went back, and I kept trying to resing it, and resing it and resing it, but I couldn’t capture the rawness and emotion in it. So we ended up keeping the very first run-through.”

“Hey Whiskey” has not only earned the approval of his millions of fans, but it also earned the approval of his biggest fan, his wife, Faith Hill, who heard not only “Hey Whiskey” but all of the songs on Standing Room Only, long before anyone else.

“She loved it. I lean on her on everything,” the father of three says. “And certainly when I’m making music, I always want her to hear what I’m doing. We don’t always agree, because we’re artists. She’s an artist; I’m an artist. So we have different ideas about things. But most of the time we’re on the same page when it comes to music.”

McGraw will embark on his Standing Room Only Tour in March, with Carly Pearce serving as his opening act for all dates. See a track list for the album below, and find Standing Room Only and all of his music at TimMcGraw.com.

Read ‘Tim McGraw: 11 Things to Know About the Singer and Actor’ here.

Standing Room Only Track List:

1. Hold On To It, (Ryan Larkins, Seth Mosley, Jimmy Yeary)
2. Standing Room Only, (Tommy Cecil, Patrick Murphy, Craig Wiseman)
3. Paper Umbrellas, (Monty Criswell, Drake Milligan)
4. Remember Me Well, (Heather Morgan, Jimmy Robbins)
5. Hey Whiskey, (Brad Hutsell, Joel Hutsell, Brad Warren, Brett Warren)
6. Her, (Jason Gantt, Tim Nichols, Jimmy Yeary)
7. Fool Me Again, (Kameron Marlowe, Brad Warren, Brett Warren, Rob Williford)
8. Small Town King, (Jaren Johnston, Jenn Schott, Jeremy Stover)
9. Beautiful Hurricane, (Mike Lane, Tony Lane)
10, Cowboy Junkie, (Bill Luther, Lance Miller, Justin Weaver)
11. Nashville CA/L.A. Tennessee, (Featuring Lori McKenna), (Tim McGraw, Lori McKenna, Bob Minner)
12. Some Songs Change Your World, (Mark Irwin, Josh Kear, Lance Miller)
13. Letter From Heaven, Songwriters (Chase McGill, Lori McKenna, Parker Welling)