Write this down: What's your favorite George Strait song? We could list dozens of memorable Strait tunes from our fool-hearted memory, since it just comes natural, but we've come up with 10 classics that will leave you with a smile.
And if you want to hear him perform some of these songs live, his tour with Reba
McEntire and Lee Ann Womack continues Friday (Feb. 5) in Phoenix and Saturday (Feb.
6) in Las Vegas.
"All My Ex's Live in Texas"
"All My Ex's Live in Texas" from the songwriting pen of the
great Whitey Shafer is pure Strait country. It fits the Cowboy like his pearl-snap shirt, his Wrangler britches, his belt
and buckle and his Resistol hat. Like George, the song is put together perfect like a singer and a song is supposed to be.
I can feel George smile when he sings this song. -- Hazel Smith
The lyrics are about a cowboy traveling on the rodeo circuit while reflecting on his life and losses,
but it's a metaphor most of us can identify with on some level. Maybe that's what singer-songwriter Terry Stafford had in
mind when he wrote it with Paul Alexander Fraser. Stafford, who graduated from high school in Amarillo, Texas, enjoyed success
as a songwriter, but his own singing career nose-dived after scoring a 1964 pop hit, "Suspicion." Stafford died in 1996 --
in Amarillo -- but Strait's recording will live on forever. -- Calvin Gilbert
Your Love With Me"
Whenever I hear this song, I always picture King George walking down the road carrying his empty,
beat-up leather bag. He's got a mighty long walk ahead of him, too -- from West Virginia down to Tennessee. Although I've
never been one to pick up hitchhikers, I'd make an exception for this cowboy. That voice, that smile. ... This troubadour
only gets better with time. -- Whitney Self
"The Chill of an Early Fall"
I've always loved Strait's recording
of "The Chill of an Early Fall." It is not at all a happy song, since it depicts a very unhappy twosome gone wrong in love.
But it has a bittersweet beauty to it. It was the title song of a 1991 album and actually got to No. 3 on the singles chart,
although I haven't heard any radio station play it since. "The Chill of an Early Fall" was written by Gretchen Peters and
Daniel Green, who formerly were together. --Chet Flippo
"Cowboys Like Us"
On my first listen, I pictured
George riding his horse through his vast ranch in Texas. Only after my second or third listen did I pick up this line: "I
take off time to time/With those crazy friends of mine/Head out on steel horses/With wheels and we ride" It was then I realized
they were probably talking about motorcycles! Too late though, that picture of George riding off into the sunset was permanently
stamped in my mind. Maybe it's because I know artists like George are a dying breed, maybe it's because I know the cowboy
way of life is slipping away, but I get very emotional when I hear this song. I get swept up in the imagery of ranchers and
big sky country. It makes me yearn for a simpler way of life. Thank you, George, for having such a knack for picking songs,
even if fans like me don't always get the meaning behind them! -- Katie Cook
It took Tim
McGraw to show me the genius of George Strait. McGraw's 1994 "Give It to Me Strait" was a virtual best-of list of Strait
tunes set to music. And when I went through it song by song, I ended up loving "The Fireman" the most. Not so much because
of the hooky lines like, "Well, everybody'd like to have what I've got." And not because of the big fiddle throughout the
song, either, but because it was one of the first times I'd ever heard a country singer stretch a one-syllable word like "name"
out that far. -- Alison Bonaguro
"It Ain't Cool to Be Crazy About You"
You wouldn't expect to hear "debonair"
in a country song, but whenever that word comes up in the chorus, I can't help but join him. ("Debonair!") Also, have
you ever noticed how the subdued piano introduction echoes the first verse? I should have known right from the start!
So smooth. -- Craig Shelburne
"Love Without End, Amen"
I'm not usually a sucker for sentimentality, but this
is one big exception. When this song came out in 1990, I was only 5 years old. I must have done something to get myself in
trouble because my father scribbled the chorus to this song on a scrap of paper and stuffed in my sock drawer. We never talked
about it, but I guess that was the point. When Strait sings it, he gives a voice to every dad who can't find the words, and
he does it with a matter-of-fact style that keeps the message true without getting too mushy. -- Chris Parton
Can anyone else croon seduction as persuasively as Strait? I don't think so. This is some dangerous
sweet talk that he's laying down: "Under these conditions," he purrs, "hearts get out of hand." And that's just one of the
affected organs. -- Edward Morris
"What's Going On in Your World"
The beauty of country music is its simplicity,
and a great singer can take a simple song and turn it into a masterpiece. It's about a desperate man asking a woman if there's
any possibility of them getting back together. And if she says she's happier without him, Strait makes you believe he loves
her enough to walk away. -- Calvin Gilbert