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Chris Gaines
05-12-2001, 05:30 PM
"Family Comes First," down-to-earth McGraw says.
By: Jim Patterson
©2001 Associate Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It's no big production when country-music star Tim McGraw heads to his favorite down-home restaurant for lunch.

He arrives after the afternoon rush, dressed in a sweatshirt and baseball cap. His pants have grass stains on the knees. He signs an autograph or two, then gets on with his business at hand.

"When I really want to disappear, it's simple," McGraw said. "All I've got to do is shave off this goatee, and I look like a college kid, you wouldn't look twice."

McGraw, 33, isn't the sort of celebrity who kicks up a fuss. To promote his new album, "Set This Circus Down," he breezily fielded questions that would probably irritate other country stars.

Asked about those hit love duets he sings with his wife, Faith Hill, he sticks his finger down his throat to jokingly indicate he knows how sappy some people think they are: "As yucky as it sounds, that's the way we are," he said with a laugh.

He doesn't blink an eye when asked about his arrest with friend and fellow country singer Kenny Chesney last year after a backstage run-in with deputy sheriffs in New York state.

"If they (the police) want to admit to some things that were done wrong, then great. If they don't, then we go to court."

He's amused when asked whether he feels a bit eclipsed by his wife's success during the past two years.

"You kidding?" he said, chuckling. "That means I can retire early. I got me a fishing boat picked out already on the coast of Florida."

Then there's Things Change, his hit single from "Set The Circus Down." Here, he finally seems to get his dander up a little. The song is a statement to pundits who claim that today's crop of Nashville stars is inferior to the great stars of the past.

The song invokes Hank Williams, Elvis Presley and such "outlaw" musicians as Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.

"How many people who are considered traditional now were complete outcasts when they came to this town?" McGraw asked. "That's probably enough said, right there."

In McGraw's hands, country music has added a strong dose of rock guitars, based on his love of 1970s rock. Otherwise, he's best known as a crowd-pleasing performer with a gift for finding hit songs.

"There are people who can sing circles around me working 7-Elevens in this town," McGraw said. "You've got to have a song, and you've got to be able to find your way around it without overdoing it."

Since becoming a star with Indian Outlaw in 1994, McGraw and producer Byron Gallimore have racked up 15 Number 1 hits, including I Like It, I love It, Please Remember Me, and Just To See You Smile.

McGraw was born in Delhi, LA, and grew up as Tim Smith. At 12, he learned that his father was former Mets and Phillies relief pitcher Tug McGraw. The two established a relationship when he became an adult.

He dropped out of Northern Louisiana University and moved to Nashville in 1989.

"Me and Kenny Chesney and Tracy Lawerence used to run around together," McGraw said.

His big break was meeting Byron Gallimore, who attended a showcase that netted McGraw a recording contract with Curb Records. His second album, "Not A Moment To Soon," yielded four hits including Indian Outlaw and Don't Take The Girl.

McGraw and Hill were married in 1996. They've become a familiar sight at country music awards shows, each beaming while the other collects trophies. McGraw is up for two awards at the Academy of Country Music Awards on May 9: Best Male Vocalist and Vocal Event for Let's Make Love, a duet with wife, Faith Hill.

"We get asked a lot how we balance family and career," McGraw said. "Well, it's not hard to balance.... The family comes first."

Those grass stains on his pants happened earlier in the day when he helped build a playhouse for his daughters, Gracie, 3, and Maggie, 2.

"I don't have to be Tim McGraw, country singer. It doesn't define who I am. It doesn't come close to defining who I am. I'm Gracie's and Maggie's dad, and Faith's husband. I was comfortable with myself before I had a hit record, and I'll be comfortable with myself after I don't have any hit records."

cybersadie
05-14-2001, 05:21 PM
I know this is random and has nothing to do with the article but I just thought of this. Wasn’t it Tug McGraw who coined the Mets slogan “you gotta have faith”? I’m sure someone’s made that joke before but it just struck me.

fuzzwuzz
05-16-2001, 12:35 AM
Along these lines, here's what Tim says in the June/July issue of Country Music magazine, that has Tim on the cover, a cool article, and a review of Set This Circus Down. LOVE the album by the way!

Indeed, the tile song is perhaps the strongest statement of purpose on the album. "Set This Circus Down" portrays a rocking musician living it up on the road but dreaming of the day when he will leave the hustle and bustle of show business and settle down "in a sleepy little town" with his wife and family.
"I absolutely see myself doing that down the road," McGraw suggests. "Once the kids start school, we're definitely going to be winding off the road and at least be home during the school year."
He pauses, taking a deep breath, and continues in a gentle tone.
"Someday I want to coach football or something. You know, I was somebody before I started making music, and I'll be somebody afterward."

Chris Gaines
05-16-2001, 01:11 AM
Sounds like he's gonna get the "Garthly Blues" huh? :)

Jason