Story Behind the Song: Tim McGraw, ‘Southern Voice’
Tim McGraw's "Southern Voice," the second single from and title track of his 10th studio album, was written by Bob DiPiero and Tom Douglas. Released in September 2009, "Southern Voice" became McGraw's 23rd No. 1 hit in January 2010, and his first since April 2007. Below, DiPiero and Douglas tell The Boot about how the wrote the song.
Bob DiPiero: I was in a pretty neutral mood that day -- actually, what I usually am -- hopefully optomistic! I was very happy to be writing with Tom. I'm always fired up to be writing with someone like him. I went to his house, outside of town in Nashville. He has a converted, multi-car garage, which is kind of his "man cave" -- his writing area. So our way of writing is, I'll go to his place, and we'll start banging away.
Tom Douglas: I knew that Bob and I were writing, so I'd saved this song idea for him, because I thought he'd really be able to nail it -- which he did. We both like Bruce Springsteen; we're really inspired by him. So we listened to some Springsteen and starting talking about ideas.
DiPiero: I remember us both kind of locking into this verbiage -- we "verb-ed" everything -- like Hank Williams twanged it, Dolly Parton graced it, Tom Petty rocked it -- all those kind of verbs of what they did. And once that started going, we were all over it. [Saying], "Who do we want to use ..." and personally, I wanted to slip in the "hickory wind," which was kind of the nickname for Gram Parsons.
And "Apalachicola," that was a word I have always wanted to use in a song. Just the way it sounds. It just rolls off the tongue really good. And it's just one of those beautiful, un-found places in the South, that's off the beaten path. It just says "South" to me. It's definitely got a Southern voice down there.
Douglas: It's hard not to start with Hank Williams; it becomes cliché after a while. But once we started with him, we tried to make it political, religious, sports, musical ... Scarlett O'Hara is obviously fictional, but she's the quintessential Southern belle. And obviously, we wanted to include Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks because of their contribution to the world. Our intent was to use the most visible, iconic images of people in the South.
And when you think of football, it's hard not to go to Bear Bryant and the Crimson Tide. Tim is an LSU fan, and I'm an Ole Miss fan and a UT fan. But we kind of had to put all that aside, because we were trying to make the grandest point -- paint with the broadest brush you can. And also, the visual of the word "crimson tide" and the name Bear, they're just great images!
This story was originally written by Marianne Horner, and revised by Angela Stefano.
Do You Know Tim McGraw's Real Name?
You Think You Know Tim McGraw?