McGraw’s fortunes changed with the lead single from his 1994 sophomore effort, Not a Moment Too Soon. ‘Indian Outlaw’ was embraced as a light-hearted, old-fashioned novelty song by fans but was heavily criticized for what some regarded as patronizing caricatures of Native Americans. Despite some radio stations’ refusal to air the song, it reached the country Top Ten and even crossed over to the pop Top 20. All the publicity helped send McGraw’s next single, the ballad ‘Don’t Take the Girl,’ all the way to the top of the country charts; it too made the pop Top 20. The album kept spinning off hits: ‘Down on the Farm’ hit number two, the title track went to number one in 1995, and the novelty tune ‘Refried Dreams’ also reached the Top Five. Not a Moment Too Soon was a genuine blockbuster hit, eventually selling over five million copies and topping both the country and pop album charts; it was also the best-selling country album of the year.
McGraw’s follow-up, 1995’s All I Want, immediately consolidated his stardom with the number one smash ‘I Like It, I Love It.’ The album topped the country charts, reached the pop Top Five, and sold over two million copies. Once again, it functioned as a hit factory thanks to the number two ‘Can’t Be Really Gone,’ the number one ‘She Never Lets It Go to Her Heart,’ and the Top Five ‘All I Want Is a Life’ and ‘Maybe We Should Just Sleep on It.’ McGraw’s next album, 1997’s Everywhere, become another crossover smash; it topped the country charts, fell one spot short of doing the same on the pop side, and sold four million copies. The lead single was a McGraw-Hill duet called ‘It’s Your Love,’ which not only hit number one country, but made the pop Top Ten. Three more singles from the album — ‘Everywhere,’ ‘Where the Green Grass Grows,’ and ‘Just to See You Smile’ — hit number one, and two others — ‘One of These Days’ and ‘For a Little While’ — reached number two. Meanwhile, ‘Just to Hear You Say That You Love Me,’ another husband-and-wife duet from Hill’s 1998 album Faith, climbed into the Top Five.
McGraw kept topping the charts. His next album, 1999’s triple-platinum A Place in the Sun, hit number one country and pop, and four of its singles also hit number one: ‘Please Remember Me’ (which featured Patty Loveless), ‘Something Like That,’ ‘My Best Friend,’ and ‘My Next Thirty Years.’ 2000 brought McGraw’s first Greatest Hits compilation, a best-selling smash, and another Top Ten duet from Hill’s Breathe album, ‘Let’s Make Love.’ The song later won McGraw his first Grammy, for Best Country Vocal Collaboration.
Released in 2001, Set This Circus Down (number one country, number two pop) kept McGraw’s hit streak going into the new millennium, giving him four more number ones — ‘Grown Men Don’t Cry,’ ‘Angry All the Time,’ ‘The Cowboy in Me,’ and ‘Unbroken’ — just like that. In 2002, his duet with prot_g_e Jo Dee Messina, ‘Bring on the Rain,’ also went to number one. For the follow-up album, McGraw defied country convention by entering the studio not with session musicians, but with his road band, the Dancehall Doctors, a unit that had been together since 1996 (with some members around even before that). Tim McGraw was released in late 2002 and produced Top Ten hits in ‘Red Rag Top’ and ‘She’s My Kind of Rain’; it also featured a startlingly faithful cover of Elton John’s ‘Tiny Dancer.’ McGraw kept the formula the same on 2004’s chart-topping Live Like You Were Dying, utilizing his road band, as well as co-mixing/producing the record himself. Let It Go followed in 2007, with Southern Voice arriving in 2009.