Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Top 10: George Strait

     George Strait is the King of country radio.  With 60 number one hits and countless other charting singles, he is the most successful radio artist of all time.  George has risen to the top because he has mastered the art of staying fresh and modern while never sacrificing his roots and style.  The result is a sound that fans young and old can listen to together and equally get something from it.  Riding high from Entertainer of The Year wins at the CMA and the ACM awards and his farewell tour, George Strait's career has never been hotter.  To honor the King as he hangs up his cowboy hat, Keep It Country Kids presents The Top 10: George Strait.

10.  Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind? - A classic from early in George's career, this song has all the ingredients for a Strait hit: lonesome lyrics, catchy melody, Texas imagery, and a killer fiddle solo. 

9.  You Look So Good In Love- George Strait is also the king of country charm, and nowhere is it more evident than this song.  George sees his former flame with someone new, and rather than get all redneck crazy, he just has to tell her how happy she looks.  Class.  When he starts talking in the third verse, its a deal breaker.  Women go crazy, and shoot even some guys get weak in the knees.  He's THAT charming.

8.  Check Yes or No- This song about childhood love that turns into a lifelong love is almost too sappy, but George pulled it off so well that it became an instant classic. Who hasn't passed that note in their lives?  George's best skill is finding these songs that everyone can relate to and singing them with conviction rather than trying to wow you with his vocal prowess.  The result is classics like this.

7.  Ocean Front Property- Another killer Strait song, this one is full of sarcasm and wit.  George delivers the lines so well that you almost want to take him seriously.  This has to be the least conspicuous funny song of all time. 

6. Troubadour- One of George's more recent hits, this song looks back on his career with class and dignity.  As I mentioned before, George hasn't changed his sound or style much over the years, and he makes sure to remind us of that in this song: "I was a young troubadour when I rode in on a song, and I'll be an old troubadour when I'm gone".  George uses this song as the closer on his farewell tour, and it will damn near make you cry.

5.  I Cross My Heart- The movie Pure Country produced some of George's best and most fun songs, but the high point was when Dusty just sat on a stool and sang this touching and heartfelt ballad.  Love ballads often get caught up in the scale of the song, trying to be some epic anthem.  "I Cross My Heart" is simple, straightforward, and oh so effective.  Just the way a love song should be.

4.  I Can Still Make Cheyenne- This story song of a rodeo man is what country music is all about.  In the song, George loses his woman because of his commitment to the rodeo lifestyle just as he was ready to give it up, but shrugs it off because now he can make it to the next show.  You can hear the sadness in the woman and the man over the breakup, but he doesn't have time to cry, as he has a show to make.  We may not all be rodeo men, but we've all lost a lover and tried to focus on the bright side and make it seem ok like he does here. 

3.  The Chair-  Only George Strait could sing a song about a chair and have a huge hit.  The premise of this song is so goofy and corny that it should never work, but many George is so smooth.  It's basically one giant pick-up line, but he delivers it with such coolness that I'm sure many a cowboy was fooled into thinking this idea would work for anybody but George Strait.   To this day, this is one of the most unique hits in country music history.

2. All My Exes Live In Texas- Take the formula from song 10 and crank the Texas up to 11.  This song is one of country music's biggest hits of all time.  While sad song of heartbreak are the backbone of country music, there is still a funny bone, and this song nails it.  When people who couldn't tell George Strait from George Jones can sing you the chorus of this song on cue, you know you've made an impact.  

1. Amarillo By Morning- Curiously enough, the only song on the Top 10 that didn't hit number 1 is the number one song on the list.  "Amarillo By Morning" is Texas cowboy country at its very best.  Lonesome fiddle, roadbound lyrics, soft twangy vocals... It has it all.  "I ain't got a dime, but what I got is mine.. I ain't rich, but Lord I'm free..."  Who hasn't felt that sense of pride before?  When George Strait came on the scene, he helped bring back traditional country music from the commercial leanings the genre was taking in the 80's.  Ricky Skaggs and Randy Travis were also key players, but George has outlasted them all and is still making music like this.  "Amarillo By Morning" is a country standard and helped pave the way for traditional country to make a comeback in the early 90's.

As is the case with any of the legends, 10 songs is simply not enough to summarize their careers.  If I missed any of your favorites or ranked any too high, sound of in the comments section.  Until then, do what George Strait has been doing his whole life and Keep It Country Kids!!!

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