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Tim McGraw Admits Earning Success With ‘Indian Outlaw’ Was Surprising

Tim McGraw Indian Outlaw
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

Tim McGraw didn’t earn any hits when he released his eponymous debut album in 1993; instead, he had to wait until his sophomore record, 1994’s Not a Moment Too Soon. That project spawned the single “Indian Outlaw,” which landed in the Top 10, surprising even McGraw himself.

“”Indian Outlaw” was sort of this novelty, weird-sounding song,” McGraw shared at a recent media event. “I moved to town in May, early May, of 1989; the same day Keith Whitley died was the day I moved to town. That night … I met [songwriter] Tommy Barnes … We sat up in a hotel room, and he played me “Indian Outlaw” that night, the first night I moved to town, and I told him I was going to record that song.

“It took me a while to get to it,” McGraw continues. “I played that song in clubs forever, and it was just so different. I didn’t know how people were going to take it, I didn’t know it was going to work.”

The success of “Indian Outlaw” taught McGraw an important lesson about the music industry, and gave him inspiration for the remainder of his career.

“First and foremost, it always started with a song. To me, that was the most important thing,” the country star says. “… I’m competitive. I love hearing music; I love hearing everybody else’s music. But I want to go in and make an album every time that anybody would be proud [of] … [and] I want every song on there [to have the potential to] be the first single off anybody’s album.”

The Louisiana native works hard to create cohesive albums that he’s proud of, regardless of whether or not the songs sound like commercial hits.

“I try to put together an album where there’s no skips,” McGraw explains. “You don’t always succeed. I succeed for me, but I don’t know that I always succeed for everybody else. But you have to feel it. You have to go in and feel what’s happening and feel — your emotions have to come through the music, and if that doesn’t happen, if you’re just walking through the process, that’s not going to work.”

With more than 30 No. 1 singles to his name, the singer says that it’s impossible to pick which song is his favorite — but he has a few that will always stand out.

“I always have to say “Live Like You Were Dying,”” McGraw confesses. “But “It’s Your Love” is really important to me. It was the first song that Faith [Hill] and I had done together … That song’s really important to us. It means a lot, to both of us.”

In addition to his superstar wife, McGraw has also collaborated with Taylor Swift, actress Gwyneth Paltrow, Kenny Chesney, Big & Rich and cousin Catherine Dunn. However, the singer says that there’s still one artist he dreams of singing with.

“There’s a lot of great artists out there that I’m a fan of. But I always go back to [Bruce] Springsteen,” McGraw notes. “If I could ever make a record with Springsteen, and do something with him, that would be great fun for sure.”

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