OFFSTAGE: Tim McGraw and Garrett Hedlund Back in 2004

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

I was not at Tim McGraw‘s concert in Austin, Texas, in 2004, but now I’m wishing I was. Because his co-star from his new movie, Country Strong, Garrett Hedlund, told me a cool story from that night. It was right around the time that their first movie, Friday Night Lights, was in theaters. (It’s the film where Hedlund is a football player and McGraw is his jackass of a father.) “So I’m there for his show in Austin,” Hedlund told me. “And all the sudden, he pulls me up onstage to sing ‘I Like It, I Love It.’ But, you know, I’m a bass singer, so I didn’t think I could do it. But he made me sing. He was my hero, so I did it for him.” Regardless of Hedlund’s vocal range back in 2004 or now, I think McGraw must’ve heard what we all will hear once Country Strong opens nationally on Jan. 7 — a killer voice. And Hedlund’s even got the aw-shucks humility to go with it. “I couldn’t have done this without Tim,” he said. “He taught me to live it, breathe it and get every inflection down. He was absolutely the best one on set to give me singing advice.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.