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'Check Yes or No': The Story Behind the Sweet George Strait Tune

ASSOCIATED PRESS

In 1995, George Strait added to his long list of hits with the release of "Check Yes or No" from his Strait Out of the Box box set. In the song, the MCA Records artist tells the story of two school-aged children who have a crush on one another. Strait sings from the perspective of the boy, now an adult, as he recalls receiving a kiss from the little girl, named Emmylou Hayes, and chasing her "'Round the playground, across the monkey bars to the merry-go-round." The little girl then hands the boy a note in class asking him to "Check Yes or No" to let her know if he likes her back.

 

"Do you love me? Do you want to be my friend? And if you do, then don't be afraid to take me by the hand if you want to. I think this is how love goes, check yes or no," Strait sings in the chorus.

The song follows the couple as they grow up, get married and their own have kids, but they still have the "stars in their eyes" they had when they were children. The song's official music video follows the song's story, showing the couple as children and then as adults who attend a George Strait show and watch him sing the song.

"Check Yes or No" went on to become Strait's 28th No. 1 hit on the Billboard Country chart, following singles like "Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind," "Oceanfront Property," "All My Ex's Live In Texas," "Ace In The Hole," "Love Without End, Amen," "I Cross My Heart," "Heartland," and more. The song and many of Strait's number ones can also be found on his album, 50 Number Ones. 

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"Check Yes or No" was written by Danny Wells and Dana Hunt Black, and it was both songwriters' first-ever cut and first song to reach the number one spot on the charts. Hunt Black told WSRE Pensacola that she had the idea for the song before she even moved to Nashville, but the song didn't come to fruition until she wrote with Wells.

"I actually went to Nashville with that idea, but didn't write it probably for a year after I moved there," said Hunt Black. "Danny and I had been working on another song, we were at ASCAP writing this song, and I'll never forget -- we had been trying to write this one particular song and we finally just looked at each other and he ripped it off the pad and threw it in the trash. And we're like, 'Now what?' It just wasn't going anywhere. I just thought, 'You know what? I've got a little idea.'"

The songwriter says she then started singing the first part of the chorus to "Check Yes or No," and that's when the song was born. Wells told a similar story of the writing of the song on an episode of Words & Music, adding that they moved some parts of the songs around before they landed on the winning version heard in the George Strait recording. The song eventually made its way to Strait, and the country superstar told CMT that he immediately loved it. "Check Yes or No" even received the approval of Strait's son, Bubba.

"Yeah, 'Check Yes or No,' that was a pretty big record. And that was one of the songs though that I knew, right away when I first heard it, I wanted to cut it," said Strait. "I couldn't wait to get home and play it for my son. I knew he'd love it. I don't remember how old he was at the time, but he was pretty young. And I remember I was riding to take him to school, and he's not a morning person. He's pretty grumpy. And I said 'I've got a song here I'm gonna play you.' I stuck it in there and played it and cheered him right up. Boy, big ol' smile, I knew we had a good one then."

George Strait, or the "King of Country Music," is one of country music's most successful artists and one of the most prominent artists in all genres of music. Over the course of his career, he has released more than 60 number one hits. Other high-charting songs include "Amarillo By Morning," "The Cowboy Rides Away," "I Know She Still Loves Me," "Blue Clear Sky" "I Can Still Make Cheyenne," "Carrying Your Love With Me," and "Write This Down" (also written by Hunt Black).

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'Check Yes or No': The Story Behind the Sweet George Strait Tune