Tyler Hubbard, Tim McGraw call for unity on new duet

Entertainment

This combination photo shows Tim McGraw at the iHeartCountry Festival in Austin, Texas on May 4, 2019, left, and Tyler Hubbard of the duo Florida Georgia Line at the 61st annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Feb. 10, 2019. Hubbard and McGraw are asking people to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes in a call for unity on their new duet “Undivided.” Hubbard wrote the song while isolating on his tour bus after testing positive for COVID-19 last year. He said the division in America in 2020 weighed heavily on his heart as he wrote the song. McGraw said the song isn’t political, but makes a case for empathy instead of disagreement. (AP Photo)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Isolating alone on his tour bus parked outside his home last year, Tyler Hubbard, one-half of the popular country duo Florida Georgia Line, felt weighed down with emotion about the division in America in 2020.

In November, Hubbard had tested positive for COVID-19, the devastating coronavirus that became one of many issues, including politics and racial injustice, that had turned people against one another.

“I think that 2020 and the state of the country was heavy on my heart, just like it is heavy on everybody’s heart,” Hubbard said. “I probably take for granted and forget how many other people are actually going through that and having the same emotions.”

Luckily, years of touring made him adept at writing and recording while on a bus, so he funneled his thoughts into a new song, “Undivided,” a call for unity when the nation looks at its most fractured. It was released Wednesday.

Hubbard and his FGL bandmate Brian Kelley announced at the beginning of the year they have both been working on music separately, but the duo told fans in an Instagram post that they are staying together as a band.

After finishing the song with songwriter Chris Loocke, Hubbard pitched it to his Big Machine label mate Tim McGraw, who said the lyrics about empathy and letting God unite people again had him thinking about his own perceptions about the world.

“It’s not beating people up and it’s not political,” said McGraw. “It’s more about the social fabric that we all rely on and the social contracts that we all rely on that hold us together and keep us sort of tethered to each other in a positive way.”

The song comes out just a week after a violent mob rioted at the U.S. Capitol, spurred on by politicians’ false claims of election tampering. Hubbard said the timing for the song is just right, even when there is so much noise to break through.

“I’ve kept the TV off for the last couple of weeks, but I still caught the news about the Capitol and it’s just so sad,” Hubbard said. “But it did remind me, ‘OK this message is still needed.’ It’s not like 2021 hit and all of the sudden everyone’s unified again. It’s gonna take some time rebuild and repair.”

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