Editor’s note: Blake Shelton is just one of the country music stars who will be honoring their musical hero during George Strait: ACM Artist of the Decade All Star Concert, a TV special airing Wednesday (May 27) at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
Over the last three decades, George Strait has brought along some of country music’s most promising artists as his opening acts, and this year, Blake Shelton accepted the coveted invitation. During a recent visit to CMT, the Oklahoma-born singer checked off his 10 favorite songs by the reigning King of Country Music.
“Unwound” — “Unwound” is always going to be one of my very favorite George Strait songs because it kind of set the tone for the rest of his career. It was written by Dean Dillon, who went on to write — and still does write — lots of George Strait hits. Lots of his records have been written by Dean Dillon, and it’s the classic George Strait sound. It started out [defining] George Strait, and it’s still George Strait. “Unwound” is always going to be one of my favorites.
“The Chair” — To me, “The Chair” is the most well-written country song of all time. I’ve said that before. The song is basically just a pick up line from the beginning to the end, and it’s brilliant. It’s sung by the King and, to me, it’s the most well-written country song of all time.
“Ocean Front Property” — I love the sarcasm of “Ocean Front Property” and I also just love the record. When the intro starts, it gets me pumped and it reminds me why I love country music so much. It’s just a phenomenal song. Here again it’s Dean Dillon and George Strait teaming up to make country music history with a No. 1 song.
“Amarillo by Morning” — That’s gotta be the greatest country fiddle part of all time in my opinion. And it’s awesome. … When that intro happened, it was so magical that I can just see them in the studio saying, “Hey, that intro is awesome. Play it at the end of the song and we’ll fade the band out and just keep playing it.” I mean, it’s beautiful, and it just gets stuck in your head.
“All My Ex’s Live in Texas” — That one and “Amarillo by Morning” are the two that when you say George Strait’s name, those are the first two songs that pop into my mind. I mean, I can remember my mom walking around singing “All My Ex’s Live in Texas” and my dad walking around singing it. It was one of those songs that just took over. Still, when I think of George Strait, that’s his signature to me.
“Baby’s Gotten Good at Goodbye” — The first time I ever heard that song was when me and my sister’s boyfriend at the time went fishing together, when I was in school. And on my way walking down to the pond that day, he started singing — and he’s a terrible singer — “What a rotten day this turned out to be.” That stuck in my head forever. Still to this day when I hear that song, I think of that fishing trip. My point is, George Strait and his music has always been a part of my life. With every song, there’s a scene in my head that I can picture where I was and what I was doing when that particular song was popular.
“Drinking Champagne” — The personality on that particular record is just …it’s greatness to me. This guy is pretty much one of those dudes that you see in some classy bar somewhere. He’s just there to pick up a girl and go home with her. He comes back again the next day and, deep down, he’s probably got a broken heart or something. That’s how he deals with it. But it’s just such a laid-back record that I love it. That’s one of those songs that I wish I could’ve recorded.
“She’s About as Gone as a Girl Can Get” — “She’s About as Gone as a Girl Can Get” was always one of my favorite George Strait songs, and it was right before the Pure Country explosion happened. I think I was probably about 15 years old when that song came out, and about that time is when it was hitting me: “Man, George Strait is just awesome.” He’s always had songs that I liked, but it was just starting to dawn on me how much I loved him. And about that time, he came out with Pure Country and just became bigger than he ever was. He was the coolest guy in the world to me and all my friends in high school at that point.
“Easy Come, Easy Go” — “Easy Come, Easy Go” is an awesome song. And here again, it’s Dean Dillon and Aaron Barker, who also has written several George Strait hits. I first heard “Easy Come, Easy Go” on Dean Dillon’s album that I bought in high school. Then when Dean decided just to be a songwriter, George Strait got his hands on a song that had already been one of my favorites. I remember how cool it was and how I felt like I was on the inside of something because I knew that song before George Strait released it. I remember thinking this song has got to be cool because all the girls in high school loved it. They all thought that was “the song” at the time. I remember I could play guitar a little bit, and they all wanted me to learn it and so I did just to try to get laid.
“You Can’t Make a Heart Love Somebody” — I’ll always love the hook of “You Can’t Make a Heart Love Somebody,” just knowing George Strait and knowing what he’s about. He’s a cowboy, he loves to rope — and just the overall rodeo image that he has. And obviously the hook comes from “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” What a great hook for the perfect artist.