Country Strong (movie)

20 years in, Tim McGraw enters a 'new beginning'

20 years in, Tim McGraw enters a 'new beginning'

For Tim McGraw, the process of selecting songs for an album and picking movie scripts is no different. He must respond to the material on a basic emotional level.

"I have to take an intellectual cap off and wait to be hit viscerally," McGraw, the 46-year-old country star and actor, said from the road recently. "You have to be moved. Whether it's funny, sad, tragic or even mean — something's got to prickle the hairs on the back of your neck."

Although McGraw — who headlines Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Va., on Saturday — has sold more than 40 million albums and won three Grammy Awards, he says he's only now figuring out how to craft the music he wants to...