5 Deep Cuts From George Strait

Country music’s style has always swung back and forth. Fans are anxious to hear it go in new directions and incorporate different elements, but just as quickly, bemoan it for moving away from its roots. People who aren’t fans of the genre will complain that it is “too twangy” or “unintelligent.” The sound has been updated and cleaned up to widen country music’s popularity. When it swings too far away from where it started, an artist comes along and gives the true fans what they want. George Strait was just what country music needed when he arrived in late 1981. The Texas neo-traditional singer would score number-one hits for three decades. Here are five deep cuts that you should check out.

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1. “Honky Tonk Crazy” on Strait From The Heart, written by Dean Dillon and Frank Dycus

Songwriter Frank Dycus shared the story about the origin of this one with Nu Country TV,” Dean (Dillon) ‘s the kind of guy who loves all the attention. He loves to have all the girls flocking around him. He tips the waitress $10 bills. I’m the opposite. I don’t want anyone to know who I am. I was getting mad at him because he was introducing himself to all the ladies. I wanted to leave, but I was with him and couldn’t leave. We were in this rough section of town where you get your throat cut if you’re not careful after midnight. He said, ‘You can’t leave because I got the car.’ I said, ‘You watch my arse go out the door.’ I walked 10 miles to a truck stop across the river and through the woods. I called my wife to come and get me. It was about 3 o’clock in the morning. She said, ‘Where’s Dean?’ And I said, ‘he’s Honky Tonk Crazy. He’s rip-roaring wild.’ When I got home, I jotted it down. I didn’t try to write it that night. Me and Dean got together about three or four days later and wrote the song.”

Got all my friends around me
Telling the latest jokes
They can’t see the joke’s on me
I’m at the end of my rope
So I step out side and drink one
In the driving rain
That’s all right if I’m high tonight
‘Cause she’s already drove me insane.

2. “You’re the Cloud I’m On (When I’m High)” on Right or Wrong, written by Ronnie Rogers

This great country weeper was the B-side of the number-one hit “Let’s Fall to Pieces Together.” Johnny Gimble’s fiddle and Weldon Myrick’s steel guitar make me feel like I’m in Texas when I hear this one, which is funny because the album was recorded in Nashville. Texas is a state of mind. The album Right or Wrong was Strait’s third. It sent two other songs to the top spot as well. “You Look So Good in Love,” and “Right or Wrong.”

If you see me light on my feet
Feelin’ good inside
Honey, you’re the cloud I’m on
When I’m high

3. “You’re Right, I’m Wrong” on Holding My Own, written by Mary Stuart and Wayne Perry

The opening track of King George’s twelfth studio album, this tune leans heavily on the drums of Larrie London and the steel guitar of Buddy Emmons. Marty Stuart and Wayne Perry wrote it. Stuart was having big hits of his own when this album cut was recorded. I’m surprised it wasn’t released as a single. Other hits on the album were “Gone as a Girl Can Get” and “So Much Like My Dad.” The song did appear as a B-side of “I Cross My Heart,” which was the lead single from Strait’s next album, the soundtrack to the film Pure Country.

You’re right, I’m wrong
I’m here, you’re gone
Now I’m the one to blame
That our loves at an end
I lied, you cried
I died inside
Now I’ll do anything
To get you back again

4. “King of Broken Hearts” on Pure Country Soundtrack, written by Jim Lauderdale

Songwriter Jim Lauderdale shared the inspiration for this song with The Tennessean in 2022, “I had been in Los Angeles about three or four months. And one of the reasons I went out there was because I was so enamored by this artist named Gram Parsons. And Gram had been gone about 15 years. I was reading this biography of Gram written by this fella from a group called the Long Ryders, and his name was Sid Griffin. There was a story about Gram at a party in Hollywood. And he was playing George Jones records for people who hadn’t heard him, and he started crying. And he said, ‘That’s the King of Broken Hearts!'”

The king of broken hearts is so sad and wise
He can smile while he’s crying inside
We know he’ll be brave tonight
Cause he’s the king of broken hearts

5. “A Showman’s Life” on Here for a Good Time, written by Jesse Winchester

This duet with Faith Hill has all the ingredients for a hit song. Writer Jesse Winchester first released the sad tale of a performer on the road on his 1978 album, A Touch on The Rainy Side. Country singer Gary Allan sang it with Willie Nelson on his 2003 album, See If I Care. It’s also been recorded by Dobie Gray, Buddy Miller, Michael Stanley, and Ronnie Dunn.

They told me all about the pretty girls
And the wine and the money and the good times
There’s no mention of all the wear and tear
On an old honky tonker’s heart
Well I might have known it
But nobody told me about this part
Well I might have known it
Nobody told me about this part

Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images

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