When the World Needs a Gentle Reminder, Tim McGraw Has a Song for That

The Zoom Interview All About His Brand New "I Called Mama"

He was there to remind us to live like we were dying.

And to ride and never worry about the fall.

And to always stay humble and kind.

And now, Tim McGraw is reminding us to call our moms. Today. Instead of waiting for tomorrow.

Just in time for this year’s Mother’s Day, McGraw is releasing his newest single on Friday (May 8), “I Called Mama.” Since the ballad comes from the pens of some of Nashville’s most prolific hitmakers — Marv Green, Jimmy Yeary, and Lance Miller — the imagery of a Texaco, Slim Jim, Coke, oak tree, river, guitar and home paints a picture that only McGraw can bring to life by leaning into the heartfelt sentiment about the mothers who hold us all together.

In a Zoom call with him earlier this week, McGraw told me why he always seems to find these kinds of songs and why sometimes they find him.

CMT.com: First, tell me how often you call your mom? Because I can barely get my 23-year-old son to even text me back.

McGraw: I call my mom pretty regularly. At least once a week, but probably more. She doesn’t like to talk on the phone much. But at 23, I don’t know that I did unless I was asking for money.

I’m probably guilty of that, too. But you’ve been singing about mamas since the beginning of your career, with “It Doesn’t Get Any Countrier Than This” from 1994. Then there was “Carry On,” “Love You Goodbye,” “If You’re Reading This,” “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s,” “You Had to Be There,” “Damn Country Music” and probably a few others I left off the list. So do you feel like you go out and try to find songs like that, or do they somehow find you?

I certainly try to find songs that I can find some deeper meaning in. And songs that have sort of a wide view in them. But I don’t look for songs like that in particular, the ones that are: family, home, mama. I guess maybe subconsciously I gravitate to them. I don’t know. I tell myself all the time that I’m just looking for great songs, but maybe they do find me. I guess I’ve done enough of those kinds of songs throughout my career about life — like “Live Like You Were Dying” and “Humble and Kind” — enough now that I get more sent to me than average. So maybe I do come across them more often. I really try to just find great songs.

Well, mission accomplished. Especially this song’s bridge, with the line about “from now on I ain’t gonna wait so long.” That’s the reminder that I hope everyone takes away from this song. Because now more than ever, families need to stay connected even when they can’t quarantine together. But why do you think that it’s just human nature to procrastinate?

I guess for kids and moms, maybe they feel like if they do check in, they don’t want you to know what they’re doing. They don’t want to feel guilty by checking in with mom and reminding her of the things they shouldn’t be doing. People are guarded with their emotions, and for some people, it’s just harder to touch those buttons.

Stay tuned for McGraw’s lyric video featuring never-before-seen footage of him and his mom when he was a baby, coming this Friday. And in mid-May, he’ll release the official “I Called Mama” video featuring footage of mothers that McGraw’s fans sent in from around the country.

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