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Tasty treats aside, the focus was was on new music, and Tim's Big Machine labelmates, the Mavericks, rocked the house with their unique brand of Latin-infused country music for 30 minutes before Tim took the stage. His wife, Faith Hill, was there to cheer him on, as were excited executives from his label and a large group of radio programmers anxious to hear the superstar's new tunes.
"Thank you for being here and for listening to one of my favorite bands, the Mavericks," Tim said, welcoming folks in the room. "I'm not going to talk too much, because I want to just play music for you."
In the middle of his set, Tim told the crowd, "This is a special night for me. I moved here in 1989, playing Skull's Rainbow Room in Printer's Alley every night. Thanks to you for the success I've had. When we went to make this record, I remembered that I loved looking at album packages when I was getting into music. I wanted to make a record like that; I wanted to make an album reminiscent of the Eagles, so Don Henley came and sang on this one with me."
Although Don Henley didn't join him on stage, Tim's performance of "I Can Fly Like an Eagle" could hardly have been improved. Neither could the title cut, "Two Lanes of Freedom," or any of his more familiar tunes, such as "Felt Good on My Lips," "Something Like That" and "For a Little While."
Tim slowed down the pace with "Red Rag Top," saying the song was one of those that begged to be recorded. "Every now and then you find a song that won't be No. 1 but it will touch the people who hear it," he explained.
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In the middle of his show, Scott Borchetta, who heads the Big Machine Label Group, interrupted the music to take the stage, saying to Tim, "I don't usually stop a performance but this is something special. We want to present you with a plaque commemorating Tim McGraw as Nielsen BDS's Most Played Artist of the Decade in all genres."
Scott went on to say that Tim's album sales have topped the 40 million mark, with 11 of his CDs topping the Billboard charts. He also has had 30 No. 1 singles and more than 10 million spins at radio. His most played song, "I Like It, I Love It," has, for instance, had 600,000 spins.
Tim brought out special guest Ne-Yo, whose upcoming album features a new song the R&B singer co-wrote with Nashville songwriter Luke Laird, who also produced it for the pair. After the pair performed "Only Human" from Tim's Emotional Traffic CD, they delivered their new duet called "She Is," which will be on Ne-Yo's R.E.D. album, due out Nov. 6.
"I believe in the cross pollination of music," Ne-Yo said. "Luke definitely crossed R&B with country, and I wouldn't have done this song without Tim singing it with me."
Tim encored with "Truck,Yeah," with the audience rocking along. "I've got 20 more years left," he said. "I'm having a blast.There's a lot of history to this music and I'm proud to be a part of it."
Two Lanes of Freedom will be released in February. Tim and Faith begin their upcoming concert series at Las Vegas' Venetian hotel and casino on Dec. 7. Get more information here, and watch our exclusive interview with the couple below.