Watch George Strait’s Incredible “Amarillo by Morning” Performance on ‘Austin City Limits’ in 1984

Throughout his long career, George Strait has launched 60 singles to the top of the charts. With that record, he proved that he knows how to pick stellar country songs. However, arguably one of his best songs missed the top of the charts.

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Ask ten Strait fans about their favorite song from King George’s catalog and at least half will quickly answer “Amarillo by Morning.” The fiddle-driven arrangement and his understated vocal delivery combined with the song’s subject matter make it an easy favorite among fans of neotraditional country music. However, it peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart when he released it in 1983.

[RELATED: Watch a Young George Strait Perform His First No. 1 Single “Fool Hearted Memory” on ‘Austin City Limits’]

In the video above, Strait notes that “Amarillo by Morning” was his most-requested song even before he recorded it. This proves that it has been a fan favorite for more than 40 years.

George Strait Put “Amarillo by Morning” on the Map

Terry Stafford co-wrote “Amarillo by Morning” with Paul Fraser and released it as a single in 1973. However, Stafford saw only minor success with his original pop-country arrangement of the song. Nearly a decade later, George Strait recorded his rendition of the song for his sophomore album Strait from the Heart.

The song’s narrator is a rodeo cowboy who details the struggles of his profession. He lost relationships, material possessions, and his health to the rodeo lifestyle. However, he’s proud of the man he is and seemingly wouldn’t trade the freedom that his occupation offers him for the world. Pairing this concept with the Western-style arrangement and Strait’s voice made this song a hit.

According to Songfacts, the inspiration for this iconic country song came from a couple of fairly mundane places. First, Stafford lived in Amarillo and played a show in San Antonio. His late-night drive home inspired the opening lines of the song. The title, however, came from a FedEx commercial that promised to get packages to places like Amarillo by the next morning. Stafford called Fraser with the idea for the song and the pair hashed it out together.

Several artists including Terry Buller, Kelly Schoppe, and actual rodeo cowboy Chris LeDoux recorded the song before Strait released his cover which quickly became the gold standard.

Featured Image by Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock

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