“Real Good Man” Does Real Well

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As customary, Tim McGraw showed up early and stayed late at BMI’s Nashville headquarters Thursday (Aug. 23) to honor the writers of his latest No. 1 song, “Real Good Man.” “He’s so cooperative,” BMI’s Joyce Rice told the crowd. “Tim will say, ’What time do you want me to be there?’ He loves the writers.” The objects of McGraw’s love this time around were George Teren, who has four BMI “Million-Air” songs to his credit (meaning each has been broadcast at least a million times in the U. S.), and Rivers Rutherford, the ASCAP-affiliated composer who brought Teren the “hook” for the song.

“This town, these buildings, these parties wouldn’t be possible without guys like these,” McGraw said as he stood beside the writers on stage during the trophy presentations. “I feel lucky to be associated with real artists.” Taking a more whimsical tack, Rutherford said, “I brought my wife and four kids because I wanted them to see the guy who’s putting them through college.”

Rutherford said he got the idea for the song when Claudia Young, a staff member of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), remarked at a party, “We love having Rivers at NSAI. He’s a really bad boy, but he’s a really good man.” Rutherford said he knew instantly that her bon mot was the seed of a song. He was surprised, he added, that none of his fellow songwriters in the room jumped on it.

“Every step of the way, everything’s gone right with this song,” Teren observed, explaining that the same day the song’s demo was finished, McGraw’s people put a hold on it. That was over two years ago. “Real Good Man” is Teren’s second McGraw cut. His first was “Senorita Margarita,” which appears on A Place in the Sun.

Before the party got underway, McGraw met with reporters to take questions on a variety of subjects. Yes, he said, he plans to record his next album with his own band, the Dancehall Doctors. Yes, he and wife Faith Hill are purchasing a house in Beverly Hills, Calif., but they have no plans to live there. “I can’t stand to be out there more than a week at a time,” he insisted. Of the CMA awards he’s nominated for, he says he’d most like to win the entertainer of the year trophy again. “I’d love to win that because it embodies everything you do.” If his buddy and co-contender, Kenny Chesney, wins, he noted, “I’ll be the proudest person in the room. I’ll jump up and yell. … [But] I’d be more happy if I won.”

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.