My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Playlist: Favorite George Strait songs

George Strait

George Strait

Thursday, April 23rd, is St. George’s Day. George is the name of the patron saint of England. One of the most prominent of the military saints, legend has it that George slayed a dragon that had been terrorizing the people of Silene, in modern-day Libya, doing so on the condition that they convert to Christianity.

And of course, George is also the name of a few very important figures in country music, so this seemed like a good opportunity to dig a little bit into the back catalog of one of them. What follows is a chronological listing of some George Strait songs that, while not necessarily essential or definitive, are my personal favorites:

1. Amarillo By Morning (1983). Included on Strait’s 1982 sophomore album Strait from the Heart, “Amarillo by Morning” was released as a single in early 1983. It had previously been recorded by one of its co-writers Terry Stafford in 1973, Chris LeDoux in 1975 and Asleep at the Wheel in 1981. All of those renditions, however, were eclipsed by Strait’s. This is the first George Strait song I can remember hearing on the radio that really made an impact on me. At the time I didn’t realize it was a song about a rodeo rider. The lines “I hope that judge ain’t blind”, and “I ain’t rich, but Lord I’m free” made me think it was a song about someone who had been wrongfully imprisoned and was hoping to appear before a judge to have the conviction overturned. Eventually, I figured out that wasn’t what the song was about, but it remained a favorite anyway.

2. Right or Wrong (1984). This old Bob Wills classic has been recorded countless times. My collection includes versions by Merle Haggard and Reba McEntire with Asleep at the Wheel, but Strait’s version was the first one I ever heard. It is the only version to have gone to #1 on the Billboard Country Singles chart. It topped the chart in early 1984, becoming Strait’s fourth #1 hit.

3. Let’s Fall To Pieces Together (1984). The follow up to “Right or Wrong”, this was Strait’s fifth #1 hit. I’ve always thought it was a shame that he and producer Ray Baker only made one album together.

4. Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind (1984). The title track to Strait’s 1984 album, this marks the beginning of the “modern” George Strait. It was his first single to be produced by Jimmy Bowen, and by this time he’d begun to develop his trademark crooning-style, which was a much more relaxed style than some of his earlier releases. This song had been turned down by Reba McEntire, who didn’t feel comfortable singing it because of the line about “cold Fort Worth beer.”

5. Nobody In His Right Mind Would’ve Left Her (1986). The lead single to the album #7, this song was previously recorded by its composer Dean Dillon, who has written many, many hits for George Strait. It was also included on Keith Whitley’s 1985 album L.A. to Miami, but wasn’t released as a single. This is one of Strait’s best vocal performances. He captures perfectly the pain and torment of the protagonist, who regrets having walked out on a woman that he comes to realize too late that he still loves.

6. Baby’s Gotten Good at Goodbye (1988). Released in December 1988, this was the lead single to Strait’s 1989 album Beyond the Blue Neon. I got my first CD player for Christmas in 1988, so this was the first George Strait album I bought on CD. It reached #1 on April 1, 1989. It’s not as well remembered as some of Strait’s other hits, but it’s always been one that I’ve liked a lot.

7. Love Without End, Amen (1990). This song about a father’s unconditional love for his son became the biggest hit of Strait’s career when it was released in 1990. It spent five weeks at #1, the first Strait single to top the charts for more than one week.

8. Lovesick Blues (1991). A cover of the old Hank Williams classic, in which the Williams influence can be be easily heard in Strait’s vocal performance. This is one of those songs that I like no matter who is singing it. Its claim to fame in Strait’s catalog is that it was his first single since 1981′s “Down and Out” that failed to reach the Top 10. It peaked at #24 and remains the lowest charting single of Strait’s career. How many other artists would love to say that a #24 song was their worst chart performance in a career spanning nearly 30 years?

9. I Can Still Make Cheyenne (1996). Another song about a rodeo rider who lost a wife or a girlfriend (we don’t know which) somewhere along the way. The protagonist is devastated when said wife or girlfriend tells him not to bother coming back from an extended period on the rodeo circuit during which he’s failed to even call home, but puts up a good front by saying, “If I hurry, I can still make Cheyenne”, which he had, up to that point, been planning to give up in order to return home.

10. The Seashores of Old Mexico (2005). Another rare Strait single that failed to reach the Top 10, this rendition of the Merle Haggard composition peaked at #11 in 2005. After a period in which Strait’s recordings were beginning to become a little boring, this song, which had previously been recorded by Hank Snow, Freddy Weller, and Merle Haggard (both as a solo artist and as a duet with Willie Nelson), was like a breath of fresh air. The album of the same name is the best Strait album (so far) of the 21st century.

Needless to say, it’s difficult to narrow down such a strong and extensive catalog to just ten favorites. It would be much easier to just write about the George Strait songs that I don’t like. But for better or worse, these are my ten picks.

Happy St. George’s Day, everyone!

What are your favorite George Strait songs?

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13 responses to “Playlist: Favorite George Strait songs

  1. Paul W Dennis April 22, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    My least faorites are “The Chair” and “The Fireman”

    My favorites are harder to select. It’s not that he has had so many great songs – rather that George is the king of “pretty good” – his singles generally grade out in the C+ to B+ range,never great, never terrible

    If I had to favorites (leaving out covers such as “If You Ain’t Lovin’”, “Love Bug”,”Right Or Wrong” or “Drinking Champagne” which were all better in their original hit versions) I’d choose “Check Yes Or No” and “All My Exes Live In Texas”

  2. Greg M April 23, 2009 at 1:49 am

    There are so many George Strait songs to choose but if I were to pick two that haven’t been mentioned, Heartland and Run.

  3. Claudia April 23, 2009 at 7:38 am

    You make some excellent choices. I particularly love “Amarillo By Morning” and “Nobody In His Right Mind Would Have Left Her.” I would add “Baby Blue”, “Drinking Champagne” & a newer one, “A Better Rain”.

    • Razor X April 23, 2009 at 9:30 am

      There were a lot of songs I wanted to add, but I just had to stop or the list would have been 50 songs or more long. :)

  4. Hubba April 23, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    you didn’t catch the line “lost my saddle in Houston” lol?
    “Fool Hearted Memory” is still my favorite, and I was saddened to hear that George Strait himself didn’t really like it.
    His best vocal performance (interpretation is probably the right word) was “You Look So Good In Love.”

  5. Michael April 23, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Like you said, it’s pretty much impossible to narrow down the list to 10 but I was really happy to see “Amarillo By Morning” and “I Can Still Make Cheyenne” on the list. Three of my favorites that I haven’t seen mentioned yet aree “Marina Del Rey”, “You’ll Be There” and “Desperately”.

    And then there’s Go On, Easy Come Easy Go, Blue Clear Sky, If You’re Thinkin’ You Want a Stranger, Chill of an Early Fall, I Hate Everything, So Much Like My Dad, You Look So Good In Love, Heartland, well, you get the picture.

    Good job. Thanks again and Happy St. George’s Day! However, I’m guessing we won’t be seeing a George Ducas feature today. :P

  6. Mike K April 23, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Man, this is a tough list ot pick, but a fantastic idea for a post. Ocean Front Property was the first music I ever bought (on cassette no less). A lot of my favorites are some of the older album cuts that you don’t hear very often along with almost all of Dean Dillon’s songs. I also like both of the Bruce Robison songs that George has done. if I was gonna pick 10…

    Honky Tonk Crazy
    Haven’t You Heard
    Lefty’s Gone
    What’s Goin’ On in Your World
    So Much Like My Dad
    Last in Love
    Without Me Around
    Lead On
    Ready for the End of the World
    House With No Doors

    At least that’s this week’s top 10.

    Thanks for a great post.

  7. Occasional Hope April 23, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    I love all your choices apart from Love Without End, Amen, which has always left me a bit cold.

  8. Robert E Filhart April 23, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    How about Marina Del Ray…that is one of my favorites. Also, as far as an entire CD is concerned, I can never get enough of One Step At A Time. Check out the songs That’s The Breaks, Neon Row, and You Haven’t Left Me Yet.

    • Razor X April 23, 2009 at 9:24 pm

      That’s one of the few George Strait albums that I haven’t heard all the way through. I’ll have to check it out.

  9. Chris April 23, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    I think my favorite is “Give It Away”, it’s just a great song.

  10. Frank May 28, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    What year did George Strait sing Baby blue

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