George Strait’s “I Cross My Heart” well superseded the confines of the soundtrack it featured on. Recorded for the film Pure Country, the track is a rich ballad about undying love. It earned Strait a No. 1 and is inseparable from the country star.
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Given how integral this song is to Strait’s career, it’s hard to imagine it could have ever been recorded by someone else, but it actually took a while for the stars to align for “I Cross My Heart.” Check out the story behind this Strait hit, below.
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Finding the Artist
“I Cross My Heart” had a winding journey before it landed in Strait’s lap. The songwriters, Steve Dorff and Eric Kaz struggled to find an artist who could pass off this potentially cheesy ballad and give it the gravitas it deserved.
The lyrics are a little heavy-handed: Our love is unconditional / We knew it from the start / I see it in your eyes / You can feel it from my heart. If put into the wrong hands, this touching song about love and devotion could move way up the cringe scale.
Several artists tried their hand at the ballad prior to Strait recording it, notably Bette Midler. Though Midler cut the track, she quickly realized the song “wasn’t for her.”
“It was terrible,” Dorff once told The Tennessean. “To her credit, she knew that it wasn’t the right song for her voice. For me, the true test of a hit is also the marriage of a great song with the right artist.”
Surprisingly, the song was first demoed with a ’90s R&B feel à la Boys II Men.
“When Kaz and I finished the song, I thought it was a Boyz II Men kind of song,” Dorff continued. “We demoed it that way. 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.'”
Despite the naysayers, Dorff never gave up on the song, holding out hope it would find the right artist. It’s a good thing too, because he would soon find just the cowboy he needed: George Strait.
Fit For a Movie
The Strait-helmed film Pure Country was in production and director Chris Caine was struggling to find the song for the end of the movie. Caine called up Dorff and solved both of their problems.
Dorff recalled, “I dig this song up again, and the next day, I go over to Chris’ house and play it for him on the piano. … He says, ‘That’s perfect.'”
Strait was then called in to record “I Cross My Heart” and yet more trepidation came over the song as it was unlike anything Strait had done before.
“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,” Dorff explained. “You don’t lead a movie with a ballad that doesn’t sound anything like George Strait, but they did. And it was a monster.”
Dorff finally found his artist and Caine finally found his song. The partnership resulted in a No. 1 hit in the U.S. and one of Strait’s signature hits.
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