Whenever I hear a timeless song like George Strait’s “I Cross My Heart,” I turn it up, obviously, and then I try to picture how it came to be. And I assume that everyone in the songwriters’ room must’ve known instantly that it would be a classic country song for decades to come.
Turns out, it doesn’t always happen like that. At all.
In a new interview with the Tennessean, songwriter Steve Dorff talked about how it was an easy write, but a hard sell.
“When (Eric) Kaz and I finished the song, I thought it was a Boyz II Men kind of song. We demoed it that way. It’s a great demo. Done in this very cool, R&B, vibey, Boyz II Men thing. Played it for a bunch of people and (they said), ’Not one of your best, Steve,'” Dorff admits in the story.
During the next round of song pitches, Bette Midler decided to cut the ballad. But that wasn’t the best fit for her, or for the song.
Then, nearly ten years later, after Dorff played the tune for everyone he knows and they responded with a polite, “Nice, not one of your best,” he got a call from the man directing the movie Pure Country. He asked Dorff if he had any songs that would work at the end of the movie. “The next day, I go over to Chris (Cain’s) house and play it for him on the piano. He says, ’That’s perfect.’ We fly down to Nashville to play for George Strait,” who Dorff said would have the ultimate say over whether or not this song worked as the film’s grand finale.
“And to his credit, George owned it. We made a great record, and then everybody was scared to put it out as the first single from the movie because it’s a ballad. You don’t lead with a new album with a movie with a ballad that doesn’t sound anything like George Strait, but they did. And it was a monster,” he recalled. The song was officially released in 1992 off Strait’s
Pure Country album that also served as the soundtrack for the movie.