A little more than four years ago, Tim McGraw stood onstage at the 2016 CMA Awards, a week before the presidential election, and pleaded for compassion with his performance of “Humble & Kind.” On Wednesday, country music’s mild-mannered unifier returned with “Undivided,” another feel-good call for empathy featuring Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard, who also co-wrote the song with Chris Loocke.
If “Humble and Kind” served as McGraw’s 2015 warning call, “Undivided” bookends the Trump administration with an ever-so-slightly more urgent, apolitical call for vague change and love. “I’m tired of looking left or right,” McGraw sings, “So I’m just looking up.”
McGraw and Hubbard’s kumbaya country, arriving a week after a violent far-right mob stormed the United States Capitol, is either timely or tone-deaf, depending on whom you ask. “I think it’s time to come together/You and I can make a change,” McGraw sings in the up-tempo banjo-rocker’s chorus. “Maybe we can make a difference/Make the world a better place.”
“Undivided” is released at a particularly divided moment in the nation’s history: The message of the song mirrors the “healing” rhetoric of some Republican lawmakers urging Congress not to impeach the president, as well as the calls for unity by President-elect Joe Biden, who has doubled down on his message in the wake of last week’s events. McGraw was one of a few country artists to comment on the Capitol insurrection, tweeting, “A terribly sad day for America, a terribly sad day for leadership.”
“Undivided” is also the latest in a long line of “let’s get along” country songs that began proliferating in the past half-decade, including Kenny Chesney’s “Get Along,” Carrie Underwood’s “Love Wins,” and Florida Georgia Line’s “People Are Different.”