“Live Like You Were Dying” A Song Analysis Essay Example

  • Category: Entertainment, Music,
  • Words: 853 Pages: 4
  • Published: 03 November 2020
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"Live Like You Were Dying", recorded by Tim Mcgraw, is a country music video that was released during the summer in the year 2004. It is the leading single on McGraw's eighth album. The song was written by a tag team of Tim Nichols and Craig Wiseman, who are both just like McGraw, as all three men are American singers and songwriters. "Live Like You Were Dying" tells the story of a middle aged man in his forties that has just recently been diagnosed with a terminal disease, and how the man is going to live out his remaining time on Earth. All three American artists use the songs lyrics and visuals to convey emotional, logical, and credible rhetoric throughout the music video.

Emotion in this song is very prominent, as the whole point of the music video is to tell the story of a man's actions when he discovers he is terminally ill. At 40 seconds, McGraw sings the lines,"I spent most of the next few days looking at the x-rays. Talking about the options, talking about sweet times". McGraw uses these lines to instill in his audience a sense of impending doom for the man, as he is nearing the end of his road. Then McGraw sends the audience in the other direction of the emotional spectrum. The tone goes from sad, to grateful. At 1 minute and 5 seconds, McGraw cuts into the uplifting recurring chorus, "I went skydiving, I went Rocky Mountain climbing. I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu". 

These lines convey a happy emotion, as the audience can interpret from these lines that the man is grateful for the time he still has left, and he is going to live out the remainder of his days to the fullest. McGraw is also trying to tug at his audience's emotions by throwing  some relatable ideas into the lyrics. One specific instance is at 1 minute and 44 seconds, when McGraw sings the lines, "I was finally the husband, that most of the time I wasn't. And I became a friend a friend would like to have". People often are busy with their lives, and they often forget to slow down and appreciate the people around them. By having the man realise this, McGraw creates some familiarity between the man in the song and his audience. To sum up emotion, this song is effective in producing many different opportunities for its audience to experience some kind of feelings. 

Logic is a prevalent appeal in this song. The song is putting together a logical timeline of events that occur after a man finds out he has a terminal illness. The man goes from being a bland, basic person and transforms into a caring husband, a good friend, and he takes risks like skydiving. Appeal to logic can also be seen right before Tim McGraw sings the chorus. The man’s friend asks what the man did when he found out he was dying. Tim McGraw then breaks into the chorus, singing about all of the life-changing things the man does. Tim McGraw is developing logic by creating a common life hurdle for the man, and the man does what many other individuals have done in the past. 

He lived everyday like it was his last. This is a common problem that others often find themselves in, and McGraw provided a logical, common solution to the problem. The visual element of the music video helps enforce logic through McGraw’s use of a slideshow in the background. The slideshow is showing depictions of the things the terminally-ill man accomplished, such as climbing a mountain or jumping out of an airplane. The visuals bring the chronology of the events together and there is a logical connection of timeflow between the lyrics and the video.

Credibility is established mainly through the men behind the writing and performance of the song. McGraw and his companions had other albums full of hit singles before the debut of “Live Like You Were Dying”, so the men clearly have shown that they have enough country music experience to create this piece. In the song itself, McGraw gives credibility to the terminally-ill man when the man describes all the experiences he created after he was given his diagnosis.

By providing the audience with details of the man’s actions, such as the man giving forgiveness to those he had been holding grudges against, McGraw is establishing enough details for the audience to believe that McGraw’s song is credible. McGraw is also trying to provide some visual forms of credibility in his music video. During the entirety of the video, McGraw is singing in front of a slideshow of life adventures, while everything else around him is pitch white. By combining all of these elements, McGraw is trying to create a background that implies he is in heaven, therefore establishing his credibility of a story about life. The slideshow in the back is also providing the song credibility, as the pictures in the slideshow show all of the things the terminally-ill man accomplished nearing the end of his time on Earth.

Tim McGraw’s hit single “Live Like You Were Dying” develops its rhetorical appeals effectively by combining its emotional and logical lyrics with its credible visuals. McGraw is able to reach his audience by effectively appealing to people that have lost somebody in the past, engaging with his audience’s ability to follow a logical story in his lyrics, and by developing himself as a credible country singer over his career.



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