Every #1 Country Single of the Nineties: George Strait, “I’ve Come to Expect it From You”

“I’ve Come to Expect it From You”

George Strait

Written by Buddy Cannon and Dean Dillon

Billboard

#1 (5 weeks)

December 8, 1990 – January 5, 1991

Radio & Records

#1 (2 weeks)

November 30 – December 7, 1990

George Strait takes the Billboard chart into 1991 with this long-running No. 1 single.

The Road to No. 1

1990 was a great year for George Strait.  He won CMA and ACM Entertainer of the Year, and the lead single from his Livin’ it Up album, “Love Without End, Amen”, spent five weeks at No. 1.   Perhaps surprisingly, his second single from that album fell short of the top.   “Drinking Champagne” was a cover of an old Cal Smith hit, and it earned a solid top five placing on both charts.   For the third single, Strait managed to match his five week stay at the top.

The No. 1

“I’ve Come to Expect it From You” is a delightful anomaly in Strait’s storied career.   It’s nervy and angry, with a thread of bitterness that Strait has rarely explored in his work.  As a general rule, his songs shoulder the responsibility for love gone wrong or right.

Not here, even if some moments of self-loathing surface.  Strait gives a tense and irritated performance that matches the lyric, at times sounding like he’s singing through gritted teeth: “I guess that I should thank my unlucky stars that I’m alive, and you’re the way you are.  But that’s what I get. I’ve come to expect it from you.”

“How could you do what you’ve gone and done to me,” he wonders.  “I wouldn’t treat a dog the way you treated me.”  Finding his backbone, he packs up to leave, with the parting words, “There won’t be no more next time doing me wrong.  You’ll come back this time to find out that I’m gone. Bu that’s what you get.  You should expect that from me.”

This one is in my top ten favorite Strait songs of all time.

The Road From No. 1

MCA quit while they were ahead with Livin’ it Up, and didn’t issue a fourth single.  We’ll see Strait again later in 1991, with the first three singles from his next album all topping at least one chart before the year is out.

“I’ve Come to Expect it From You” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

Previous: Alan Jackson, “Chasin’ that Neon Rainbow” | Next: Garth Brooks, “Unanswered Prayers”

4 Comments

  1. It is interesting to read criticism of George Strait and Alan Jackson’s music since they have long been irrelevant radio players. At their peak, both was seemingly beyond reproach, as close to consensual favourites among fans and critics as the genre has known.

    Criticize King George? Off with your head!

    If you think I am bringing some of that hind-sight criticism to this song, you are wrong! Strait sounds wonderful singing one of his most trusted songwriter’s numbers here. I agree with Kevin, that Strait could have successfully explored this side of a failed relationship more often had he wanted to.

    Strait was fully in his creative zone in the early nineties. Jimmy Bowen was at his best with Strait’s production in the early 90’s before Tony Brown would take over that role in 1994.

    The confidence that he was at the top of his game oozes from this performance. A country legend was in the making.

    Buying the new Strait cassette when it was released every year was the closest thing to a sure bet and safe money as there was in the music buying world at that time.

  2. I’ve been patiently waiting for the write up of “I’ve Come To Expect It From You.” George Strait has had better songs and worse songs. But THIS song is what absolutely hooked me onto country music. To this day, every time I hear it, I go back to 1990. To me, this song will always be the benchmark of my love of this music and this era.

  3. Like “Love Without End, Amen” this is another one of the first George Strait songs I remember hearing regularly on the radio, and I remember him really becoming one of my favorites throughout 1990-early 1991, overall. This particular song actually made it onto one of the very first tapes I ever recorded around the Holiday season in late 1990. One time, I tried playing it on the little pink radio we had in the kitchen that my mom had for so long while my step dad was washing the dishes. However, the battery was getting too low, and therefore the music was playing at a much slower speed than normal, lol.

    Sadly, this is one of Strait’s many hits that never seemed to get much recurrent play after its chart run was over. It’s always remained one of my personal favorites of his, though. I love how unique it is compared to much of his other work, especially the instrumentation. Of course I never truly got the bitterness in the lyrics until I got a little older. I particularly remember later hearing the line “I wouldn’t treat a dog the way you treated me” and thinking “Ouch!” For someone who’s otherwise mostly known for standard country love and “she left me” songs, this one most definitely stands out.

    It was also around this time, I was really starting to get the sense of just how big of a deal George Strait was. Not only were the first two singles from this album in heavy rotation, but I also specifically remember him winning big during one of the award shows from this year (don’t remember which one it was, perhaps maybe the CMA’s since he won EOTY again). Anyway, I remember while my parents were watching, my mom was always saying “George Strait is going to win again.” And sure enough he did! Then she told my step dad, “See, I was right!”

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