Written by John Betts and Steve Dorff
#1 (1 week)
March 20, 1993
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
March 19, 1993
George Strait’s sendup of contemporary country becomes a huge contemporary country hit.
The Road to No. 1
George Strait’s Pure Country soundtrack kicked off with one of his biggest career hits, “I Cross My Heart.” The next single from the project also topped both singles charts.
The No. 1
“Heartland” really only exists to serve the narrative structure of the Pure Country film, which opens with a child-age version of Strait’s character singing the song about simple country life alongside the “twin fiddles and steel guitar” that the lyric celebrates.
The film then cuts to an over-the-top arena-shaking arrangement of the same song that bears no resemblance to the music described by the lyric. It’s there to demonstrate how far Strait’s character has strayed from his roots.
So MCA released the song just as it appeared in the movie, and it topped the country charts, giving Strait one of his least characteristic radio hits.
There’s probably some commentary in all of this about how country music was starting to stray from its roots in 1993 or something, but the truth is, if you dropped “Heartland” on the radio today, it would sound like Ernest Tubb comparted to nearly everything else on the dial.
And it’s a fun song that Strait sings well, which probably doesn’t reflect well on him as an actor, but certainly reflects well on him as a singer. His sincerity always shines through, and there was no way he was going to not make this record work, even for the sake of a movie scene. And so it works, because it’s George Strait.
The Road From No. 1
The Pure Country soundtrack produced another top five hit with “When Did You Stop Loving Me,” on its way to six million copies sold. Strait kept his new hot streak going with his next studio album. We’ll see the title track later in 1993.
“Heartland” gets a B.
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