When Tim McGraw recorded “Live Like You Were Dying,” he was also living the song as well. Written by Tim Nichols and Craig Wiseman, McGraw released the song in 2004, the same year his father, Tug McGraw, passed away.
“‘Live Like You Were Dying’ was one of those songs that came at a very traumatic time in my life,” McGraw recalls on Apple Music Country’s Beyond The Influence Radio with Tim McGraw on Apple Music. “It showed up and was sent to me in the middle of my father’s diagnosis of glioblastoma brain cancer and going through all of his treatments. He stayed at my cabin out at the farm and we were spending a lot of nights out there with my uncle and my brother just hanging out, listening to music, and watching football games. We spent a couple of weeks there before he passed away in the bedroom there in the cabin.”
As McGraw was watching his father’s life slip away, he already knew he would record “Live Like You Were Dying,” but decided not to play it for Tug in his last few weeks before he passed away.
“I just felt like it maybe wasn’t the right thing to do,” McGraw shares. “In fact, I almost didn’t record the song because I certainly didn’t want anyone to think that I was playing to what was going on with my father. But the more I thought about it, certainly after Tug died, the more I thought that, man, knowing Tug and knowing that this song had a lot to do with his struggle and my view of his struggle, I think that he would be somewhere up, hopefully up in Heaven, he’d be smiling down, and slapping his glove on his leg, and ready to come out to the mound, and to hear the roar of the crowd because this song was about him. So I’m sure that he would love it.”
McGraw might not have played it for his father, but he still made recording “Like Like You Were Dying” a family affair.
“We recorded this song in Upstate New York,” McGraw recalls. “About 3:00 in the morning, my uncle Hank was there, my dad’s older brother, and we had been recording all day. And about 3:00 in the morning, I looked around at the band. I said, ‘I think it’s time to do this song.’ We spent the next three hours up until sun up recording this song and my uncle collapsed in a couch crying every time we did a pass of it. That’s got to be one of the most special memories I have of making any music anywhere.”