Music

'Amarillo by Morning': The Story Behind George Strait's Signature Song

Al Wagner/Invision/AP

The story of a cowboy and his life on the road is why "Amarillo by Morning" has become a favorite of every country music fan. Terry Stafford and Paul Fraser knew the recipe to write one of the best country songs of all time, and George Strait knew how to perform it.

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 his most popular song ever. Stafford and Fraser met to write songs for a film, and that's how they partnered up on  "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.

The song has been recorded and released by names like Chris LeDoux, who recorded the song for his album Life as a Rodeo Man, Moe Bandy, Clifton Jansky, Asleep at the Wheel, and John Arthur Martinez.

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

Strait recorded the song after hearing Kelly Schoppa's MCA single of the song in 1982. 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

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

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

 

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'Amarillo by Morning': The Story Behind George Strait's Signature Song