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20 Best George Strait Songs

George Strait
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

George Strait‘s songs have turned into more No. 1 hits in each of the three full decades he’s worked than most artists would dream of having in their career.

As the record holder for chart toppers across all genres, Strait has had such a huge number of No. 1 hits that it’s very difficult to sort through and choose the Top 20 George Strait songs. The country icon has offered up many different styles over the decades, from traditional country to more contemporary fare, from love songs to darker material and everything in between, creating one of the greatest careers in the history of country music.

Strait will showcase songs from across his entire career when he takes the stage in Las Vegas in 2017 for a series of very special shows titled 2 Nights of Number 1s. The limited engagement will span four weekends in April, July, September and December, and the shows will comprise back-to-back nights of No. 1 hits from Strait, featuring live performances of his record-breaking run of 60 No. 1 singles, as well as fan favorites over the course of each weekend. More details are available at StraitToVegas.com.

Strait will almost certainly play some of our 20 Best George Strait Songs picks during the special run of shows. Take a look at the top George Strait songs, and it’s like taking a walk back through your own life, with each one reminding you of a different place and time that was important to you. That’s what has made Strait one of the most beloved artists of all time!


20

“Cold Beer Conversation”

From ‘Cold Beer Conversation’ (2015)

 

 

“Cold Beer Conversation” didn’t come anywhere near the chart success of some of the other top George Strait songs, but it earns its place on this list by its sheer quality. The title song and second single from Strait’s 29th studio album is a rumination on the nature of life and the passage of time, and songwriters Al Anderson, Ben Hayslip and Jimmy Yeary masterfully present those ideas in the form of a conversation between old friends.

 

19

“True”

From ‘One Step at a Time’ (1998)

 

 

“True” is one of the few songs on this list of the Top 20 George Strait songs that didn’t reach No. 1 on Billboard‘s chart. The love song comes in the middle of a three-year period that produced four of the songs on this list, however. It’s difficult to call the late ’90s Strait’s “prime” because he never seemed to back away long enough to determine a peak.

 

18

“The Best Day”

From ‘Latest Straitest Greatest Hits’ (2000)

 

 

If you’re not a parent, you may wonder how this song ended up on our list of the top George Strait songs. But fathers will especially appreciate this sweet tale about the advice a boy gets throughout his life. Fathers and sons aren’t the best at expressing their emotions, so Strait does the hard work with this three-week No. 1 hit from 2000.

 

17

“Murder on Music Row”

From ‘Latest Greatest Straitest Hits’ (2000)

 

 

Strait drafted fellow traditionalist Alan Jackson to join him on “Murder on Music Row,” a song written by Larry Cordle and Larry Shell and originally released in 1999 by Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time. The song excoriates the changes that were coming to commercial country music at the time, with rock and pop becoming more dominant influences and pushing out traditional country. Never officially released as a single, the song reached No. 38 on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart on the strength of unsolicited airplay.

 

16

“Write This Down”

From ‘Always Never the Same’ (1999)

 

 

The magic of “Write This Down” is it’s a song that feels like it could have been written yesterday or 30 years ago. This 1999 hit from Strait’s Always Never the Same album is yet another love song, yet somehow it sounds different from all the others. “Baby, write this down, take a little note / To remind you in case you didn’t know / Tell yourself I love you and I don’t want you to go / Write this down,” Strait sings.

 

15

“The Chair”

From ‘Something Special’ (1985)

 

 

“The Chair” is one of the most unusual songs in Strait’s catalog. Written by Hank Cochran and Dean Dillon at the end of a night-long songwriting binge, the ballad tells the story of how a man and a woman meet, but only reveals the man’s side of the conversation. It has a surprise twist at the end as do many great country songs, but what makes “The Chair” so unusual is that it has no chorus or refrain, featuring a straight narrative and a basic melody that repeats throughout the song. It was another in Strait’s long list of No. 1 hits.

 

14

“She’ll Leave You With a Smile”

From ‘The Road Less Traveled’ (2001)

 

 

Strait scored his 50th No. 1 hit with “She’ll Leave You With a Smile,” which he released as the third and final single from The Road Less Traveled. Written by Odie Blackmon and Jay Knowles, the mid-tempo song described a woman whose love is unpredictable but thrilling. Interestingly, Strait also recorded a different song by the same title for his 1997 Carrying Your Love With Me album.

 

13

“Wrapped”

From ‘It Just Comes Natural’ (2006)

 

 

Bruce Robison wrote “Wrapped,” and he first recorded it as the title song of his 1998 album. Kelly Willis recorded it for 1998 album What I Deserve, but the song is by far best-known for Strait’s rendition, which he released as the third single from It Just Comes Natural. Another fine example of how Strait can take a catchy song and craft a spot-on performance that just won’t let the listener go, “Wrapped” more than earns its spot among the top George Strait songs.

 

12

“Blue Clear Sky”

From ‘Blue Clear Sky’ (1996)

 

 

“Blue Clear Sky” was inspired by a phrase from Forrest Gump, and Strait initially questioned whether the title would work. Written by the powerhouse triumvirate of Bob DiPiero, Mark D. Sanders and the late John Jarrard, the song borrows Gump’s charming out-of-sequence phrasing, and Strait wondered whether it should be re-titled “Clear Blue Sky” to make more sense. He ultimately trusted in their judgment, which turned out to be a good thing, since the song went on to spend four weeks at No. 1.

 

11

“Amarillo by Morning”

From ‘Strait From the Heart’ (1982)

 

 

Terry Stafford and Paul Fraser co-wrote “Amarillo by Morning,” which first appeared on Stafford’s 1973 album, Say, Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose. The song described the hard life of a rodeo rider, but it was actually inspired by Stafford’s hard life on the road as a musician. Recorded by Strait in 1983, the song reached No. 4, and has become one of the icon’s most recognized career hits.

 

10

“Love Without End, Amen”

From ‘Livin’ It Up’ (1990)

 

 

This hit from 1990 stayed on top of the Billboard country chart for over a month, becoming Strait’s first multi-week No. 1 hit. Strait’s versatility — among other things — makes him such an amazing artist. He’s able to sing dark, brooding heartbreakers like “Give It Away” and cute stories of a father and son like “Love Without End, Amen” in the same concert. “Let me tell you a secret about a father’s love / A secret that my daddy said was just between us / He said daddies don’t just love their children every now and then / It’s a love without end, amen,” Strait sings.

 

9

“You Look So Good in Love”

From ‘Right or Wrong’ (1983)

 

 

By 1983, fans were beginning to recognize Strait as something special. “You Look So Good in Love” was his third No. 1 hit, the first single from his third album and one of our top George Strait songs. One can’t help but feel for this man as he watches the love of his life live happily with another man. Strait sings the verse and chorus with an optimism that seems to assure fans that he’ll be all right.

 

8

“All My Ex’s Live in Texas”

From ‘Ocean Front Property’ (1987)

 

 

George Strait rarely sounded smoother than when he crooned about all the women he’d left behind in the Lone Star State. The rhymes in this song are worthy of an award on their own (Allison in Galveston, sweet Eileen in Abilene), but Strait’s delivery is what really makes this song so special. He’s just fine hiding out in Tennessee. One almost senses that the character in this song may be banned from that state one day, too.

 

7

“Give It Away”

From ‘It Just Comes Natural’ (2006)

 

 

This Jamey Johnson-penned tune made a Rolling Stone list of top heartache songs. Strait and Johnson seem to come from opposite ends of Nashville, but both value traditional country music. The singer finds the required hopelessness in these lyrics to make it one of his all-time best songs. The song won ACM Awards for Single and Song of the Year in 2007.

 

6

“I Cross My Heart”

From ‘Pure Country’ (1992)

 

 

Strait’s 1992 hit made our Top 10 Romantic Songs list as well. It’s one of the most popular country songs to play at weddings, and for good reason. The No. 1 hit can still be heard on country radio, some 20 years after its release. Give credit to Strait for having the vision to choose songs that would remain relevant decades later. “I Cross My Heart” was one of two hits from the Pure Country soundtrack.

 

5

“Carried Away”

From ‘Blue Clear Sky’ (1996)

 

 

Steve Bogard and Jeff Stevens teamed up to write “Carried Away,” the second single from Blue Clear Sky. It’s another example of an arrangement so alluring, and a melody so compelling and instantly memorable that it simply pulls the listener in at first listen, but also stays fresh over repeat listens. It became Strait’s 30th No. 1 single, and was nominated for Single of the Year at the 1997 CMA Awards.

 

4

“Ocean Front Property”

From ‘Ocean Front Property’ (1987)

 

 

“Ocean Front Property” is another of Strait’s all-time classics. Written by Hank Cochran, Dean Dillon and Royce Porter, the song is a tongue-in-cheek ode to a love that’s gone, with the narrator trying to convince his ex that he will be fine without her and he doesn’t still love her. It builds up to a humorous chorus that ends with, “If you buy that, I’ll throw the Golden Gate in free.”

 

3

“I Saw God Today”

From ‘Troubadour’ (2008)

 

 

“I Saw God Today” was the 2008 CMA Single of the Year, but more importantly, it was a song that once again made listeners stop and stare at the radio the first time they heard it. Rodney Clawson helped pen these beautiful lyrics. “His fingerprints are everywhere / I just slowed down to stop and stare / Opened my eyes and man I swear / I saw God today,” Strait sings. Strait has consistently proved himself able and willing to subtly change his approach to country music just when fans are losing track of him.

 

2

“Carrying Your Love With Me”

From ‘Carrying Your Love With Me’ (1997)

 

 

One of the reasons Strait has scored so many hit singles is that he’s so adept at picking songs to record that have strong choruses that stick with you. Written by Steve Bogard and Jeff Stevens, “Carrying Your Love With Me” is a perfect example, and that instantly-hummable melody took the song to No. 1 in 1997.

 

1

“Check Yes or No”

From ‘Strait Out of the Box’ (1995)

 

 

A gargoyle wouldn’t be able to deny this sweet song a special place in his heart. It’s the story everyone grows up hoping to live with his or her sweetie. Strait’s 1995 chart-topper is another that is finding new fans today, even with pop-country artists like Taylor Swift and the Band Perry. “Do you love me, do you wanna be my friend / And if you do, well 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. It was the CMA Single of the Year in 1996, and it’s our No. 1 George Strait song.

 

NEXT: The Top Alan Jackson Songs

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