Performing on the east bank of the Cumberland River in Nashville, beneath the city’s pedestrian bridge, the duo talked about the collaboration’s message and origin. Hubbard, one half of Florida Georgia Line, says he wrote “Undivided” during a moment of introspection while suffering through a battle with Covid-19. “When I was in quarantine,” he said, “I got to take a good hard look at myself. Inspired by my faith in God to reunite our country, I wrote this song and I sent it to Tim.”
“The song’s message of unity and faith stirred my soul,” said McGraw, who kicked off the performance. The first verse finds the narrator regretting not being a better friend to a bullied classmate, while Hubbard’s second verse asks “why it’s gotta be all white or all black?” In the chorus, the pair offer a prayer: “Let the good lord reunite us, ’til this country that we love’s…undivided.”
“Undivided” is the latest in a string of country music “get along” songs, which earnestly call for smoothing over our differences and imagining oneself in someone else’s position. To be sure, they’re easy targets to criticize and often trite and empty — but as the United States all but fractured over the past few months, their intention can’t be denied. Fan response to McGraw and Hubbard’s performance acknowledged that, with many on Twitter praising the song and its theme of healing.
McGraw and Hubbard’s appearance at a concert tied to the inauguration of President Joe Biden shouldn’t be surprising. Both have been supportive of various liberal causes in the past, openly calling for gun reform and an end to gun violence, and speaking out for racial equality. McGraw was also one of the few country artists to comment when a mob stormed the Capitol on January 6th, tweeting, “A terribly sad day for America, a terribly sad day for leadership.”
McGraw and Hubbard weren’t the only representation of country music on Inauguration Day. During President Biden’s swearing-in ceremony, Garth Brooks sang “Amazing Grace.”