Happy Birthday to George Strait, who turns 69 today.
In 1981, Strait launched his music career with the Top 10 hit "Unwound." Strait's warm baritone and easygoing, conversational style of singing paired well with his love of traditional country sounds, making for an artist who went against the grain of the kinds of pop-inflected sounds heard on country radio at the time in the wake of the of the "Urban Cowboy movement" that surged after John Travolta starred in the film Urban Cowboy in 1980.
In 1982, Strait earned his first chart-topper with "Fool Hearted Memory." Over the years, he earned 60 No. 1 singles, such as "Check Yes or No" and "The Chair."
He's been named the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year three times (1989, 1990 and 2013). He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006 and in 2008, he earned a Grammy for Best Country Album for Troubadour.
In 2014, after decades of selling out concerts, Strait wrapped his The Cowboy Rides Away Tour with a June 7 concert at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. That concert drew 104,793 attendees, which set a record for the largest indoor concert in North America. In August 2014, CMT aired a two-hour concert special from the show, titled George Strait: The Cowboy Rides Away.
In recent years, Strait launched the tequila line Codigo 1530 and has earned a Top 20 hit with "Every Little Honky Tonk Bar." In 2019, he became the first artist to reach 100 song entries on Billboard's Country Airplay chart.
Today, CMT highlights a few of this superstar's many essential songs.
"Amarillo By Morning"
This single from Strait's 1982 album Strait From the Heart is one of his most-beloved, signature songs. However, it was not a No. 1 Billboard hit--The track only reached the Top 5 on the Billboard charts.
This 1985 Dean Dillon and Hank Cochran classic depicts how a man and woman meet at a bar, as the man politely informs her that she's sitting in his chair. The song's lyrics focus only on the man's side of the conversation, and ends with him slyly letting her know that he had used the story about the chair as an opportunity to meet her.
"Check Yes or No"
This sweet story song from 1995 chronicles a young couple's love story, which partly found its genesis as a third-grade romance when a young girl presented a young boy with a note that read I think this is how love goes/check yes or no. Twenty years later, the couple is married and their love story is still going strong.
"Ocean Front Property"
In this 1987 hit, Strait tells his ex-lover that if she thinks he doesn't love her, then he has some ocean front property in Arizona to sell her.
"Love Without End, Amen"
This 1990 song centers on the enduring love fathers have for their children, with a memorable chorus that returns to a father's advice to his child: Let me tell you a secret about a father's love/A secret that my daddy said was just between us/He said daddies don't just love their children every now and then/It's a love without end, amen.
"Murder on Music Row"
Strait teamed with fellow country superstar Alan Jackson for this 2000 song, which laments the lack of traditional country music heard on today's country radio, and comparing it to murder. The track, penned by Larry Cordle and Larry Shell, was originally released in 1999 by Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time.
"I Cross My Heart"
This 1992 hit is from Strait's album Pure Country, which also serves as soundtrack for the film by the same name, which starred Strait in the role of a country superstar named Dusty Chandler.
"How 'Bout Them Cowgirls"
In this 2007 hit, Strait says he's seen it all, from the lights of Las Vegas to the natural beauty of Yellowstone, but that's nothing compared to how awestruck he is by the independence and glory of cowgirls. This hit was penned by Casey Beathard and Ed Hill.
This 1988 hit finds Strait reminiscing about a love gone wrong, and he wonders what his blue-eyed former lover is doing now, complete with the heartbreaking line Here's to you and whoever holds my baby blue tonight.
"A Showman's Life"
This Jesse Winchester-penned track was included on Strait's 2011 album Here For a Good Time, with Faith Hill proving a guest vocal on the song. The somber ballad laments how young aspiring performers latch on to the idea of fame and money, and often overlook an entertainer's gritty day-to-day reality, of weeks spent traveling far away from family and nights in lonely hotel rooms. The song was previously recorded by Gary Allan on his 2003 album See If I Care and by Buddy Miller in 2002.