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'Amarillo by Morning': The Story Behind George Strait's Ode to the Rodeo


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The story of a cowboy and his life on the road made "Amarillo by Morning" an undeniably classic country song. Songwriters Terry Stafford and Paul Fraser concocted one of the best country songs of all time, and George Strait sang it best.

Stafford, who had a successful career as a writer and a performer, felt stuck after his hit "Suspicion." Little did he know, he was about to sign with Atlantic Records and write a second signature song. Stafford and Fraser met to write songs for a film, leading to "Amarillo by Morning." One night, Stafford heard an ad say, "get your package to places like Amarillo by the next morning," and that inspired the two to write the song.

It's been interpreted by rodeo champion Chris LeDoux, who recorded the song for his album Life as a Rodeo Man as well as Moe Bandy, Clifton Jansky, Asleep at the Wheel and John Arthur Martinez. At the 2013 CMA Awards, Nashville stars Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood performed parody duet "Obamacare by Morning."

However, none are as popular as Strait's 1983 version from his album Strait from the Heart. Despite earning consideration as one of the best country songs of all time, Strait's single peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard charts.

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Strait recorded his version after hearing Kelly Schoppa's 1982 MCA single. Strait knew a song about the trials and tribulations of a cowboy on the road who had broken bones, memories of lost love and no money would resonate with his audience.

The cowboy theme would present itself through Strait's career with hits like "The Cowboy Rides Away," "I Can Still Make Cheyenne" and "How 'Bout Them Cowgirls."

'Amarillo By Morning' Lyrics:

Amarillo by mornin'
Up from San Antone
Everything that I got
Is just what I've got on

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When that Sun is high
In that Texas sky
I'll be buckin' at the county fair
Amarillo by mornin'
Amarillo I'll be there

They took my saddle in Houston
Broke my leg in Santa Fe
Lost my wife and a girlfriend
Somewhere along the way

But I'll be lookin' for eight
When they pull that gate
And I hope that
Judge ain't blind
Amarillo by mornin'

Amarillo's on my mind

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Amarillo by mornin'
Up from San Antone
Everything that I got
Is just what I've got on

I ain't got a dime
But what I've got is mine
I ain't rich
But Lord, I'm free

Amarillo by mornin'
Amarillo's where I'll be
Amarillo by mornin'
Amarillo's where I'll be

READ MORE: Country Music Icon Alan Jackson's 10 Most Notable Songs, Ranked

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