Retro Single Review: George Strait, “Ocean Front Property”

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March 27, 2012

1986 | #1

Subtly clever, yet deceptively simple, with a strong undercurrent of heartache.  In other words… classic Strait.

In an excellent lyric co-written by Dean Dillon, Royce Porter, and Hank “I Fall to Pieces” Cochran, the narrator tells his soon-to-be-ex-lover that he won’t miss her when she’s gone, won’t ever take her back, and won’t be haunted by her memory.  He then reveals the sheer untruth of his claims by saying “Now if you’ll buy that… I got some ocean front property in Arizona…. If you’ll buy that I’ll throw the Golden Gate in for free.”  He thus likens the impossibility of his moving on to that of obtaining ocean front property in a landlocked state.

Strait’s vocal interpretation is just straightforward enough to keep the song’s left-of-center metaphor from coming across as campy, keeping the undertone of sadness fully intact  A simple steel-laden arrangement has helped the song age with dignity, making for yet another memorable classic Strait record that retains its appeal a full quarter century after its release.

Written by Dean Dillon, Hank Cochran, and Royce Porter

Grade:  A

Next:  All My Ex’s Live In Texas

Previous:  It Ain’t Cool to Be Crazy About You

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  1. Hoggy from OzNo Gravatar says:

    Haha. A great song I didn’t understand until recently (Go easy on me, I do live in Australia after all!). One of may favourites Strait songs now for all the reasons you said Ben :)

  2. Jordan StaceyNo Gravatar says:

    In my top five Strait singles, I absolutley love this one and would love to see someone cover it one day as I love cover songs and it’d be interesting to get a different take on it. Though I doubt anybody can be as good as Strait is here.

  3. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    No sweat, Hoggy. I’m sure there are plenty people right here in the U.S. who don’t know their own country’s geography well enough to know that Arizona does not have an ocean border. Which means ocean front propert is mighty hard to come by over there…

  4. DevinNo Gravatar says:

    Definitely one of my favorite George Strait songs as well. I’ve taken to using the phrase myself in certain situations, but it seems like no one gets the reference to this song nowadays. Great little review there, Ben.

  5. Motown MikeNo Gravatar says:

    I’ll second, third, fourth, fifth and say that this song is also one of my favorites from King George. It’s one of those country songs where the clever attitude it seeks to convey is actually clever. There is no jumping up and down saying “hey look at me, look at how clever I am”; so Mr. Paisley, I’m sure you have this track on cassette somewhere, pop it in, press play and then rewind and repeat.

    It is has almost become cliche to take pot-shots at Brad’s attempts at songs that try to be clever, corky or funny. But when you listen to this song you can’t help but critique his material against a song like Ocean Front, a song that works so well.

  6. bobNo Gravatar says:

    @MM – Brad may very well be familiar with this clever song recorded but not written by Strait. BP co-wrote a song with Robert Arthur and Tim Owens that had a similar theme called “I’ll take You Back” from his “Time Well Wasted” album. I like the line “When politicians everywhere stop telling lies and only state the facts … I’ll take you back”.

    Rhonda Vincent’s “I’ve Forgotten You” also had a similar theme and I’m sure there are other songs that did before and after “Ocean Front Property”. I don’t dispute the merits of the latter even though Strait is not one of my favorite artists.

  7. RowdyRedNo Gravatar says:

    Yes, irony is the soul of both “Ocean Front Property” and “I’ll Take You Back,” but the sentiments are totally opposite. George will never get over his broken heart, whereas Brad ain’t EVER takin’ that b**ch back. But both songs use irony to make their point.

    I’m one of the people who still thinks Brad’s doing fine, and wonder why his name even came up in this context…particularly if it’s so cliche’ to slam him. He doesn’t write or sing songs that fuel some kind of class/culture war, most of his themes (even the “silly” ones) assume we have brains, education and jobs, and I’d personally appreciate a whole lot more Brad clones than “rural pride” clones.

    I’d love “Ocean Front Property” even more if George hadn’t become totally become a cliche’ machine. This is one of his best, but it has some very lame company.

  8. BillyNo Gravatar says:

    I have always really liked this song. It’s just one that has always stuck with me.

  9. Great review! You’re right that it’s Strait’s vocals keeping the song from veering into camp. He could sing the Amarillo phone book and make it sound fantastic.

    It’s always fun to see how country songs turn old sayings into catchy lyrics.

  10. HarryNo Gravatar says:

    As a child growing up
    I actually believed that there was Ocean Front Property in Arizona.
    I later found out that there was no.
    Jamie O’Neal did a song called There Is No Arizona.
    I think that these are just to be funny and kill time.

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