George Strait, ‘I Believe’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]
Thank George Strait's wife Norma for 'I Believe,' the Newtown, Connecticut-inspired new single from his 'Love Is Everything' album. The singer and his band were finished recording the album when she made everyone unpack and cut the song -- arguably the best of the 13.
Strait was hesitant to include the song, as he didn't want to misrepresent the families of the victims or be accused of somehow profiting from their tears. That won't be an issue. As a father who has lost a child, his sincerity triumphs on this beautifully crafted tribute to the victims.
"The night’s as clear as a big desert sky / But it’s hard to see stars with these tears in my eyes / Yeah, it’s hard not to cry / There’s twenty-six reasons why," Strait sings. Yes, it's been half of a year since that terrible day in December, but the emotions come flooding back as the country legend humbly offers that fourth line.
At its core, 'I Believe' is about faith -- a subject this singer has approached with underrated deftness. "But I believe / There’s someone who’s looking after me / Someone beside me night and day / To light the way / It’s hard to conceive / Something you can’t see / But I believe," Strait sings during each chorus.
Comparing this song to Alan Jackson's 'Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)' is tempting, but doing so is unfair to both songs and tragedies. The incidents were experienced in the most personal ways, and to say one is better or worse (the songs or the attacks) cheapens the other.
Strait's tribute is a gift to his fans, and if they want it, a gift to the parents and victims of the 26 killed. Melodically, it doesn't quite hook one like an all-time great song will, but that shouldn't keep his next hit from earning a Song of the Year consideration.
Listen to George Strait, 'I Believe'