King George is the perfect example of an artist with an ear. Strait rarely writes any of his own songs, but the relationship he has with them is amazing. And even if it’s a song somebody wrote for George Strait, it’s never truly a George Strait song until he sings it.
That unmistakable voice, that inflection, that ethos and emotion. Strait doesn’t have to be a writer to make every song his own. And yeah, it’s pretty much impossible to pare down the best lyrics from George Strait, but here at Wide Open Country, we attempt the impossible.
Check out some of our favorite George Strait lyrics and the songs they come from below.
Though originally released in 1973, “Amarillo By Morning” didn’t reach its mega-song potential until its re-release in 1983. There’s not much more of a country sentiment than “I ain’t rich, but Lord I’m free,” and that’s ultimately what the rodeo song is about. The freedom to follow your heart, even if you know it’s a hard road with little glory to be had. For many, “Amarillo By Morning” was their introduction to Strait, or at the very least, the moment people really “got” what he was about.
Without question, country’s No. 1 wedding song, “I Cross My Heart,” is probably Strait’s greatest romantic love song. And that’s saying a lot. It was actually written for the movie he starred in, 1992’s Pure Country. Paired with the scene in which he sings the song to his love, “I Cross My Heart” can bring you to tears just thinking about it. There’s nothing tricky about it (except maybe the chord patterns), but it shoots straight to the heart. And from the heart. Just like George Strait lyrics are meant to be.
There really aren’t that many songs about the love between a father and his child. But the few out there really stick out. A lot of that is thanks to this 1990s gem, which follows a classic narrative structure. Throughout each verse (childhood, adulthood, afterlife), the moral rings true. A father’s love for his children simply never ends, whether it’s your earthly father or, as the last verse points out, your religious one. The clever turn of phrase shows just how Strait is able to fuse real life with faith without seeming preachy or heavy-handed.
For all his beautiful love songs, George Strait knew how to pick a sad one too. Many of his biggest hits came from the world of lost love, and “Baby Blue” is among the best. Of course, in the literal sense, “Baby Blue” captures that horribly melancholy feeling of love that went as quickly as it came. But many also heard it as a tribute to Strait’s daughter Jennifer, who died in a car wreck in 1986. She was 13. This song, released in 1988, quickly rose to the top of the charts.
One of his more recent songs, 2008’s “I Saw God Today” captures Strait at his sentimental best. The tale of a man who sees God in all the little wonders of life, this song would just not have been the same if not sung by Strait’s impeccably smooth country voice. One of the writers, Rodney Clawson, says the song came from Monty Criswell, who would say after unsuccessful hunting trips that at least he “caught a glimpse of God” that day. It’s a notion that you don’t have to be religious to appreciate.
Released at the height of 1990s country, “Carrying Your Love With Me” stands as a premier anthem of enduring love. The track itself resonates with so many thanks to its common theme of loving somebody even when you’re thousands of miles apart. And it’s the exact kind of loyalty we expect from somebody like Strait. At the time, song plugger Michael Knox (who famously discovered Jason Aldean) represented writer Jeff Stevens. Knox says to this day, “Carrying Your Love With Me” stands out as a song he remembers hearing and thinking, “This is going to be huge.”
Simply one of the best-written country songs ever, “Check Yes Or No” came in 1995. And honestly, it may be the single easiest moment to pinpoint when George Strait really became the icon he did. It was the lead single off his first box set, Strait Out Of The Box. That was really the moment it was clear Strait wasn’t easing off the gas. The tale of a couple that started young in a school with a classic note instantly brings a smile to the face. Who doesn’t have some experience with such young love? But what could’ve been the peak of Strait’s career was essentially a midpoint, as he had dozens of No. 1 singles still to go. Incredible.