Story Behind the Song: Tim McGraw, ‘Back When’

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By The Boot Staff  theboot.com

Stan Lynch, Stephony Smith and Jeff Stevens co-wrote “Back When” after a strange encounter Smith had in her kitchen. Tim McGraw recorded the song and released it in August of 2004, as the second single from his Live Like You Were Dying album. In December of 2004, the tune hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Below, Smith explains the event in her kitchen and how it helped inspired the hit song.

I went to the kitchen to make breakfast, and I felt like something else was in the kitchen that day. I looked down, and it was a big, all-curled-up brown snake on the floor.

I just gasped. I thought, “What am I going to do?” Where I was standing in the kitchen, I didn’t have a lot of choices: I had a broom in the closet, but it had a rubber tip, and I thought, “I can’t do anything with that.” I had a huge stainless steel salad bowl, and I thought, “I’ll put that over it and figure it out after that.”

As soon as I moved, it [crawled in the space between the dishwasher and cabinets]. I called Jeff Stevens and Stan Lynch, who I was writing with, and told them to get out here and help me figure out how to get this thing out from behind the dishwasher …

We couldn’t find it. We go to the office, and we’re sitting there, and Jeff is real country, and he kinda started making fun of me for being a sissy about it. He said, “Back when ‘a hoe’ was a hoe, my mama woulda just chopped his head off.” And he kept right on talking. I was gasping, like, “That’s what we have to write today … you know, ‘Back when ‘a hoe’ was a hoe and ‘a coke’ was a Coke.’” They were like, “Oh, yeah, here we go.”

It took the snake to get the song out.