Tim McGraw's 2004 hit "Live Like You Were Dying" became one of the biggest songs of the country star's career, but at first he wasn't sure if he should even release it. During an episode of his Beyond the Influence Radio show on Apple Music Country, McGraw told guest Matthew McConaughey that he first heard the demo of the song amid his late father, Tug McGraw's, brain cancer diagnosis.
"'Live Like You Were Dying' was one of those songs that came at a very traumatic time in my life," McGraw shared. "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."
Tug died in January 2004, and McGraw released "Live Like You Were Dying" in June of that year. He told McConaughey that he had been listening to the song before his dad died, "knowing I was going to record it."
"I never played it for him because I just didn't... I just felt like it maybe wasn't the right thing to do," he revealed. "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 recorded "Live Like You Were Dying" in Upstate New York at around three o'clock in the morning. "My Uncle Hank was there, my dad's older brother, and we had been recording all day," he recalled. "And about three o'clock 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."