In September 1992, the "The King of Country Music" George Strait released "I Cross My Heart" as the first single from his album Pure Country. The album, released on MCA Records, also served as the soundtrack for the movie Pure Country, in which Strait played the lead role of a country singer named Dusty Chandler. "I Cross My Heart" can be heard playing over the movie's credits. The song went on to become one of Strait's 61 number-one hits and one of the biggest country love songs. While the track was a huge success at country radio, the songwriters initially had trouble placing it with an artist.
"I Cross My Heart" was not originally written for the Pure Country movie or even for George Strait. In fact, it was penned by Steve Dorff and Eric Kaz ten years before it was released by Strait. Dorff told The Tennessean that he and Kaz originally imagined the song with a Boyz II Men-type groove.
"When Kaz and I finished the song, I thought it was a Boyz II Men kind of song," said Dorff. "We demoed it that way. It's a great demo. Done in this very cool, R&B, vibey, Boyz II Men thing. Played it for a bunch of people and (they said), 'Not one of your best, Steve.'"
Dorff then made a new demo with a female singer and piano accompaniment, and the song found its way to Bette Midler. Midler recorded the song but never released it, citing that she didn't "like herself" on the track. Dorff says he then played the song for anyone who would listen for the next eight years, but the track didn't get any bites.
Before too long, though, Chris Caine, the director of Pure Country, reached out to Dorff in "panic mode" about not having a song for the credits of the movie. Dorff played him the song, and they played it for Strait and the movie's producer. It was then that "I Cross My Heart" finally found its home.
"George owned it," said Dorff of Strait's recording.
The song was released as the lead single from the soundtrack, with "Heartland" and "When Did You Stop Loving Me" to follow. Pure Country was produced by Tony Brown and was one of Strait's most successful albums, earning 6x Platinum status. The song, which took the number-one spot on the Hot Country Songs chart, is in good company among the other George Strait songs that have topped the charts, all of which have contributed to the living legend's unmatched legacy.