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Tim McGraw, ‘Better Than I Used to Be’ – Lyrics Uncovered

Tim McGraw
Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

The lyrics to Tim McGraw‘s latest single, ‘Better Than I Used to Be,’ are a deep look into a man cleaning up his act for the one he loves. The song was penned by hit songwriters Ashley Gorley and Bryan Simpson nearly five years ago, and it is finally out at country radio to make its impact coast-to-coast.

“Bryan was one of my first co-writers when I came to Nashville,” Gorley tells Taste of Country. “At the time, he was still living in Texas, so we wrote it at his house. It was one of those writing sessions that are getting more and more rare these days, where you just trying to write a real-life country song with no agenda or project in mind. I think it was his title and concept, and we started rolling it out. We were writing late and wanted to do an honest country song without being too worried about if there’s enough ear candy in there or if it’s uptempo [laughs].”

I know how to hold a grudge / I can send a bridge up in smoke / And I can’t count the people I’ve let down, the hearts I’ve broke / You ain’t gotta dig too deep / If you wanna find some dirt on me / I’m learning who you’ve been / Ain’t who you’ve got to be / It’s gonna be an uphill climb,” they wrote in the lyrics of the opening verse to the song.

“It has some hardcore lines in it,” Gorley points out of the ‘Better Than I Used to Be’ lyrics. “Sometimes we do things in life that we hate ourselves for, whether it was a mistake or what we got ourselves into, and we need help to get out of those scenarios. It’s not an overnight thing.”

I ain’t no angel / Still got a few more dances with the devil / I’m cleaning up my act little by little / I’m getting there / I can finally stand the man in the mirror I see / I ain’t as good as I’m gonna get / But I’m better than I used to be,” they writers penned in the lyrics to the chorus.

“It was a unique song,” notes Gorley. “The singer’s been through it, and he’s honest enough to know he’s not perfect and won’t ever be, but he’s trying and excited about turning a corner and becoming a better man. It’s a combination of a life and love song, admitting your weaknesses and being transparent with the one you love. It’s real love, admitting to her that you’ll need her help and faith along the way.”

I pinned a lot of demons to the ground / Got a few old habits left / But there’s still water I might need you to help me get / Standing in the rain so long / Has left me with a little rust / It put some faith in me that some day you’ll see there’s a diamond under all this dust,” they wrote in the song.

“It’s rare that a song like this gets recorded,” Gorley says. “The song hung around for two or three years. It’s not an easy pitch since the singer has to admit that they’re a sinner — that they’re flawed. It takes someone like Tim to make this statement, knowing it’s not a sunny day sing-along song and communicate it with the sincerity of a broken past, and the hope of now being better, closer to God, closer to his wife, and just being able to look himself in the mirror.”

“I’ve been getting nothing but good comments back from people about the song because of the honesty in it,” Gorley continues of ‘Better Than I Used to Be.’ “It’s that country truth. Tim does a great job with it. I’m more excited about this one than most things I’ve had out.”

Listen to Tim McGraw, 'Better Than I Used to Be'

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