OFFSTAGE: Tim McGraw on Kenny Chesney: “He’s a Really Good Songwriter”

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

There’s a Greyhound bus, a suitcase, a guitar, too many beers and a small room at the Hall of Fame motel near Music Row. Sounds like a country song, I know. But it’s actually just the list of things Tim McGraw had on his first night in Nashville (May 9, 1989). “I was playing clubs at home, and I wanted to come and be a country star. That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to play country music,” McGraw told American Songwriter . He also tells the magazine about how, for him, songwriting wasn’t the main focus. “I mean, I was writing songs. Those first two or three years, I had written a couple hundred songs with writers all over town. They’re floating around out there somewhere. A couple may be good, but most of them were awful,” he admits. (I’d love to get my hands on those and judge for myself.) But for McGraw’s pal Kenny Chesney, songwriting was the main focus. “I was actually performing some of the songs Kenny was writing. Back then, Kenny, Tracy [Lawrence] and I would run around together, and I never thought of Kenny wanting to be an artist. I don’t think he ever said much about wanting that. I think he was concentrating on songwriting back then. And he’s a really good songwriter, by the way,” McGraw said.

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