What can you say about George Strait that hasn’t already been said of the Great Pyramids of Egypt, the Amazon River and sequoia trees?
They’re all massively impressive and ageless. Well, to be ruthlessly honest about it, Strait does have an age. His odometer rolls up to 67 on Saturday (May 18). But you’d never know it the way he continues to fill arenas and flutter hearts.
The Poteet, Texas native first broke into the country charts in 1981 — two days before his 29th birthday — with the Dean Dillon/Frank Dycus tune, “Unwound.” It took him to No. 6. A year later, he scored the first of his 45 (to date) Billboard No. 1s with Byron Hill/Blake Mevis’ “Fool Hearted Memory.”
Most of Strait’s hits have been newly minted creations he marked with his own vocal stamp. But several of his more memorable singles were “covers,” that is songs made familiar or famous by other artists.
Here are 10 examples of the maxim that “a good song is forever.”
“Right or Wrong”
No. 1 for Strait, 1984
Writers: Paul Biese, Haven Gillespie, Arthur Sizemore
Earlier recorded by Bob Wills, Milton Brown, Leon Redbone, Emmett Miller and the Georgia Crackers and others.
No. 4, 1990
Writer: Bill Mack
Recorded earlier by Bill Mack, Cal Smith, Jerry Lee Lewis, Billy Walker, Faron Young, Ray Price, Jim Ed Brown, Don Gibson, Mickey Gilley, Dean Martin and Willie Nelson.
No. 24, 1992
Writers: Cliff Friend, Irving Mills
A No. 1 for Hank Williams — his first — in 1950. Recorded earlier by Rex Griffin, Emmett Miller and others.
“The Love Bug”
No. 8, 1994
Writers: Wayne Kemp, Curtis Wayne
A No. 6 for George Jones — as “Love Bug” — in 1965.
“King of the Mountain”
No. 19, 1996
Writers: Larry Boone, Paul Nelson
Earlier recorded as album cuts by George Jones, Larry Boone.
“Today My World Slipped Away”
No. 3, 1997
Writers: Vern Gosdin, Mark Wright
A No. 10 for Vern Gosdin in 1982.
“Stars on the Water”
No. 50, 2002
Writer: Rodney Crowell
A No. 30 for Rodney Crowell in 1981.
“Tell Me Something Bad About Tulsa”
No. 11, 2003
Writer: Red Lane
Recorded earlier by Merle Haggard and, in 1997, by his son Noel Haggard.
“The Seashores of Old Mexico”
No. 11; 2006
Writer: Merle Haggard
Recorded earlier by Hank Snow, Freddy Weller, Merle Haggard and as a duet by Haggard and Willie Nelson.
Strait starred in the 1992 movie, Pure Country, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006. He’s been nominated 16 times for a Grammy and won one for best country album, Troubadour, in 2008.