Every #1 Country Single of the Nineties: George Strait, “Love Without End, Amen”

“Love Without End, Amen”

George Strait

Written by Aaron Barker

Billboard

#1 (5 weeks)

June 9 – July 7, 1990

Radio & Records

#1 (2 weeks)

June 8 – June 15, 1990

George Strait’s first No. 1 single of the decade spends five weeks at the top.

The Road to No. 1

At the turn of the decade, George Strait was at one of his many career peaks.  He was the reigning 1989 CMA Entertainer of the Year, an honor he’d repeat at the 1990 ACM and CMA ceremonies.  All nine of his studio albums had been certified gold or higher, and all but one of them had produced at least one No. 1 hit.

His most recent album, Beyond the Blue Neon, had been especiallly successful at radio, producing three No. 1 hits in 1988-1989:  “Baby’s Gotten Good at Goodbye,” “What’s Going On in Your World,” and “Ace in the Hole,”  the last of which has the interesting historical distinction of being a song written for the name of Strait’s backing band.  For only the second time, MCA decided to go four singles deep into a Strait album, sending “Overnight Success” to radio, which was a top ten hit in early 1990.

This was followed by the lead single from Strait’s tenth studio album, Livin’ it Up, which would become his longest-running chart topper to date.

The No. 1

It feels like I’ve written about this song without end, amen.   But I’m happy to do so again.

“Love Without End, Amen” tells the story of three father-son relationships that an individual man experiences.  In the first verse, he’s the son waiting on trembling knees for his father to get home, having gotten into a fight at school.  His dad lets him in on the secret that “daddies don’t just love their children every now and then. It’s a love without end, amen.”

In the second verse, he’s now the father of a stubborn boy who’s “just like my father’s son.”  At the end of his patience, he lets his son in on the same secret.

Then, in the third and final verse, he dreams he’s gone to heaven, and thinks “there must be some mistake.  If they know have the things I’ve done, they’ll never let me in.”  Then he’s let in on the secret one more time, courtesy of a voice from the other side of the pearly gates.

It’s one of the most beautiful depictions of the love between a father and a son that I’ve ever heard in a song, and I’m not surprised it did as well as it did.   More than thirty years later, it still holds up, a sentiment that is true of so many of the best singles of 1990.

The Road From No. 1

As noted above, Strait would win the CMA Entertainer of the Year again during this album cycle.  While the second single, “Drinking Champagne,” was only a top five hit, the third and final single would match the five week reign of “Love Without End, Amen.”  It’s also one of his best singles, and we’ll be seeing it before 1990 is through.

“Love Without End, Amen” gets an A. 

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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5 Comments

  1. This one of many many very very good George Strait performances. George was nothing if not reliable. I would give it a B+ or A-

  2. Great song, indeed! This is actually the very first song by George Strait that I remember hearing regularly on the radio at five years old, and it’s when I started becoming more familiar with him. I’ll admit that there was a time that I eventually got a little tired of it, since it remained a very heavy recurrent throughout the decade and well in into the 00’s. But in more recent years, I’ve come to really love it again. Especially now that I recently found an old home video featuring my step dad lip syncing to this song on the stereo in front of the camera, with five year old me running around.

    Seeing guys like Randy Travis, Ricky Van Shelton, Clint Black, Alan Jackson, George Strait, and others killing it on this feature once again reminds me just how many talented male vocalists were on the charts back then.

  3. Somewhere along the way I read an opinion that this was Strait riding Randy Travis’ coat-tails after the success of “Forever and Ever, Amen.”

    I never got it other than the obvious inclusion of “Amen” in the title and lyrics.

    It is a sincere and genuine song that stands on its own merits. I never tire of listening to the progression of the narrative. It’s so well done. So honest and wise. The subtlety of Strait’s vocals skills are on full display. Just a great song.

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