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Story Behind the Song: ‘Back When,’ Tim McGraw

Stephony Smith talked to Nashville’s Tennessean newspaper about the strange inspiration behind the hit she co-wrote for Tim McGraw with Jeff Stevens and Stan Lynch.

I went to the kitchen to make breakfast, and I felt like something else was in the kitchen that day. I looked down and it was a big all-curled-up brown snake on the floor. I just gasped. I thought, ‘What am I going to do?’ Where I was standing in the kitchen, I didn’t have a lot of choices. I had a broom in the closet but it had a rubber tip, and I thought, ‘I can’t do anything with that.’ I had a huge stainless steel salad bowl, and I thought, ‘I’ll put that over it and figure it out after that.’

As soon as I moved, it (crawled in the space between the dishwasher and cabinets). I called Jeff Stevens and Stan Lynch, who I was writing with, and told them to get out here and help me figure out how to get this thing out from behind the dishwasher … We couldn’t find it. We go to the office and we’re sitting there, and Jeff is real country, and he kinda started making fun of me for being a sissy about it. He said, ‘Back when a hoe was a hoe, my mama woulda just chopped his head off.’ And he kept right on talking. I was gasping, like, ‘That’s what we have to write today … you know, back when a hoe was a hoe and a coke was a Coke.’ They were like, ‘Oh yeah, here we go.’ It took the snake to get the song out.

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