George Harvey Strait (born May 18, 1952 in Poteet, Texas) is a popular country music performer, sometimes known by the Fan Nickname "King George." He holds the record for the most #1 hits by any artist (44 on Billboard Hot Country Songs, 60 on all major country music charts), and all but two of his twenty-six studio albums have sold platinum or higher, putting him second to only Elvis Presley for the highest-certified male artist in any genre.
Strait is also known for his remarkable consistency: almost all of his albums have generally been released to positive reviews, and from 1992 to 2015, he has worked with the same producer and largely the same session musicians. He's even been on the same label, MCA, since 1981.
He would probably be The Ace of country music if not for his easygoing, everyman demeanor. Since 1981, he has always been a cleancut guy in a cowboy hat and pressed shirt, and has been heralded as one of several musicians who brought country music back to a more traditional sound following the crossover-happiness of the late seventies-early eighties. He certainly has the cred for no-frills, neotraditional country, as before he made it big, he played in various gigs in his native Texas with his Ace in the Hole band.
Strait's music is also known for its relative lack of gimmickry: he almost never records duets, novelties, or sappy love ballads ("I Cross My Heart" notwithstanding). On the flip side, he has almost always relied on outside material, with his 2009 single "Living for the Night" being the first single of his career that he has had a hand in writing. Furthermore, he is known for rarely recording music videos.
In 1992, Strait made a brief foray into acting, starring in the film Pure Country, in addition to recording its soundtrack. While the soundtrack produced two #1 hits for him and is his best-selling album, the film was not very-well received by critics.
Tropes present in his work:
- Age-Progression Song:"The Best Day" follows the son at age 7, 15 and a young adult.
- The Alcoholic: The subject of "Drinkin' Man" is one who obviously wants to change his ways, but keeps falling back.
- Artifact Title: 50 Number Ones (2004) contained all 50 of his #1 hits to date, plus the new song "I Hate Everything" as a 51st track. Said song was released as a single... and it went to #1 as well, thus invalidating the album's title in mere months!
- Used for stylistic purposes in his version of "Stars on the Water".
- Also used to great extent in "It Just Comes Natural"; he clearly misses the note on "Tumbleweeds roll" and not even the Auto-Tune fixes it.
- Then it's taken Up to Eleven on the entirety of the live album that was recorded at his final regular concert.
- Birth/Death Juxtaposition:
- In "The Breath You Take", the narrator's father dies as the narrator's son is born.
- In "She Took The Wind From His Sails", the woman's death coincides with her daughter's birth.
- Blatant Lies: Used in "Ocean Front Property". In the verses, he says that he doesn't love her, but adds, "now if you'll buy that / I've got some ocean front property in Arizona..."
- Broken Win/Loss Streak: As he's a long runner, he's had this happen several times:
- 1989's "Overnight Success" broke an 11-song streak of #1 hits that dated to 1986 and spanned four albums.
- His 1992 cover of Hank Williams' "Lovesick Blues" was his first single not to make Top 20.
- 2012's "Drinkin' Man" became his first single not to make Top 30
- and only a year later, "I Believe" became his first single to miss the top 40 entirely.
- ...and a year after that, "Let It Go" became his worst-performing lead single ever.
- Chronological Album Title: #7.
- Cool Old Guy: He still has a massive fanbase into his 60s.
- Dead Sparks: "I Know She Still Loves Me":There's just a hint of indifference
In her lack of conversation when we talk
And the subject matters change
There's no mention of our future now at all
She still kisses me each morning
But it seems more like a habit than before
I know she still loves me
But I don't think she likes me anymore.
- Determinator: MCA was determined, come hell or high water, to make "Give It All We Got Tonight" his 60th #1 while he was still 60. They barely pulled it off, and only on the easier-to-manipulate Mediabase charts.
- Dual-Meaning Chorus: Occurs in "Love Without End, Amen," where the chorus' line "Let me tell you a secret about a father's love" applies to three situations: singer's father to singer, singer to his son, and Jesus to the singer.
- Also used in "The Best Day", as seen above.
- The Exile: "All My Ex's Live in Texas", and that's why I hang my hat in Tennessee.
- Gratuitous Spanish: His cover of José Alfredo Jiménez' mariachi song "El Rey", which he sings entirely en español. Many critics noted that his Spanish was into Surprisingly Good Foreign Language territory.
- Heavy Meta: "Twang" is but one example.
- Iconic Outfit: He usually wears a cowboy hat, pressed shirt, belt buckle, jeans, and cowboy boots.
- Lampshaded Double Entendre: The Cajun-flavored "Adalida" has this gem: "The way that you're lookin', you got me a-cookin' / And I ain't talkin' 'bout étouffée".
- Long Title: "If You're Thinking You Want a Stranger (There's One Coming Home)".
- Lyrical Dissonance:
- "Cowboys Like Us" is a song about getting out on the road with his buddies and riding their motorcycles to Mexico. You'd expect at least some tempo, but instead it's a slow, soft, gentle waltz.
- "Heartland": A song about traditional country values...done up like a glitzy stadium country-rock piece. Of course, this was the intent, as it's the first song you hear in the movie Pure Country, to see just how out of touch the main character is from his roots.
- Nice Hat: He always wears a cowboy hat.
- Pun: "I have so many ex's and owe (X's and O) so much, I oughta be on Hollywood Squares."
- Persona Non Grata: "All My Ex's Live in Texas", the narrator's ex-girlfriends all live in Texas, forcing him to live in Tennessee.
- Puppy Love: The couple in "Check Yes or No" met in third grade, where they kissed on the bus and got caught passing he titular note ("Do you love me?... Check yes or no.").
- Record Producer: From the Pure Country soundtrack through Love Is Everything in 2013, Strait was produced exclusively by Tony Brown.
- Red Baron: "They call me the Fireman / That's my name / Makin' my rounds all over town / Puttin' out old flames..."
- Rhyming with Itself: "The Chair" rhymes "at all" and "after all".
- Self-Titled Album: Some of his early albums' names were puns on his name, such as Strait from the Heart. He later released a truly self-titled album in 2001.
- Shout-Out: When George Strait asked the writers of "Blue Clear Sky" as to why the title wasn't the more common "Clear Blue Sky", they told him it was a deliberate reference to Forrest Gump.
- Strait is a common name-drop in country songs, including "Ain't Going Down ('Til the Sun Comes Up)" by Garth Brooks, "On a Good Night" by Wade Hayes, "Cowboy Love" by John Michael Montgomery, and "Did It for the Girl" by Greg Bates (which goes a step further by also name-dropping his song "Marina del Rey"). The frequent name dropping of Strait has reached a parity only achieved by Merle Haggard, George Jones and Hank Williams Sr.
- In the music video for "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses", Kathy Mattea wears a George Strait shirt.
- Strait name-drops the aforementioned Haggard and Jones, as well as Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson in "Kicked Outta Country".
- Signature Style: He's always been known for a charming, straightforward, everyman style with few flourishes or gimmicks.
- Single Stanza Song: "Heartland" and "I Know She Still Loves Me"
- Something Completely Different: Twang was his first album since his debut that he co-wrote any songs on, and it included a mariachi cover. Here for a Good Time also includes co-writer's credits by George himself, and the atypically dreary "Drinkin' Man".
- Love Is Everything continues in the pattern, including the single "I Believe", a tribute to the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting released nearly 7 months after the fact.
- Spoonerism: In "The Chair":Well, thank you, could I drink you a buyOh listen to me What I mean is, can I buy you a drink?
- Take That!: "Kicked Outta Country" as a whole, to country music radio. Oddly, his followup album, Honky Tonk Time Machine, was his most well-received album in years despite not relenting, a promise he made in the aforementioned song:Well it don't really matter, 'cause I ain't gonna changeSo gettin' kicked outta country won't hurt a thing
- Title-Only Chorus: "Love's Gonna Make It Alright".
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Meanwhile" shifts at the chorus, going from D Major to F Major, then back down. The last chorus goes up again to G, but the song ends on an E chord.