Can unification-urging music soothe the savage breast that is America’s sociopolitical divide? Country stars Tim McGraw and Tyler Hubbard hope so, as the fellow Big Machine artists have just released a duet, “Undivided,” that contends we can all just get along, most prevailing current evidence notwithstanding.
Hubbard is also using the occasion to tell fans of his day-job duo, Florida Georgia Line, that they, too, are officially undivided, even with Hubbard taking up with McGraw for this song and the recent announcement that he and partner Brian Kelley were embarking on solo albums.
Hubbard says he co-wrote the song, which says “we’ve been hateful long enough,” while he was quarantined with COVID, living on his tour bus, parked in his driveway, for 12 days in November.
Asked about his reasons for writing the song by “CBS This Morning,” Hubbard said, “I think just checking in with my heart and where I was at and the climate of our culture right now and our country. I don’t know, to be honest. It just felt like a message that I wanted to say and that felt like it needed to be heard, not only by the fans but even by myself, I think. I think it was something that was a reminder to me.”
McGraw told the show that “the song speaks to more of the social contract that we have with each other. It’s not about politics. It’s about how we’re supposed to treat each other.”
Sample lyrics: “You either go to church or you gonna go to hell / Get a job and work or you gonna go to jail / I just kinda wish we didn’t think like that / Why’s it gotta be all white or all black? And when we gon’ learn to try on someone’s shoes sometimes? When we gon’ start to see from someone else’s eyes?”
Said Hubbard, “Last week when I heard the news about the Capitol, as sad as I was, I thought man, I thought we needed this message last year, and I didn’t think we could need it anymore than we needed it last year, but apparently we still do.”
“The Capitol thing was something that I don’t know that I’ve processed enough to even put into words yet, it was so sad,” McGraw added. “It was so profound and something I never thought I would see in this country,” he added, before clarifying that he doesn’t see “Undivided” as being strictly about a political chasm.
Hubbard and Kelley recently released a message clarifying that they have no plans to split, despite preparing to record solo albums — and, indeed, Florida Georgia Line has its own already-completed next album due in the coming months.
Speculation arose even before the solo albums announcement, though, when Hubbard and Kelley distanced themselves from one another on social media in the wake of the election. Fans perceived differences in politics, as Hubbard had publicly expressed concern about racism in the wake of the George Floyd killing, while Kelley and/or his wife were seen as supporting Trump or doubting the necessity of COVID restrictions.
In an earlier interview with Storme Warren on SiriusXM, Hubbard said, “I unfollowed BK for a few days while we were through this political — you know, in the middle of this election and everything going on… I even called [Kelley] and told him, I said, ‘Hey, buddy, I love you. And I love you a lot more in real life than on your [IG] Stories right now. So I…that’s why I’m unfollowing you. Nothing personal. I still love you. You’re still my brother.’ I just didn’t want to see it every time I opened Instagram. And so it wasn’t a big deal… We might have different views or different sets of opinions … but ultimately, we’re a lot alike, and we think a lot alike,…. We both believe in God, and we both put our faith in Him, and we know that he’s in control over Donald Trump or Joe Biden.”