Single Review: George Strait, “The Breath You Take”

Sometimes a song has such a big impact that it becomes one of those inspirational signs that people hang in their homes:

Sometimes uninspired country songwriters see an inspirational sign and awkwardly craft a song around it:

“The Breath You Take” doesn’t survive the transition from country home decor kitsch to inspirational song.  Where it falls apart is insisting that this mouthful of words be spoken in casual conversation by the protagonist, rather than a narrator. Instead of speaking from the heart, he sounds like he’s quoting an inspirational sign.

I could write an entire Favorite Songs by Favorite Songwriters piece on Dean Dillon, and most of the entries would be sung by George Strait.  But this is one of their weakest collaborations ever.

Written by Casey Beathard, Dean Dillon, and Jessie Jo Dillon

Grade: C

Listen: The Breath You Take


  1. I agree. I was surprised to hear this on the album, because it didn’t seem up to George’s standards. It’s something I would expect Rascal Flatts to try to pass off as profound. I was even more surprised to learn it was released as a single.

  2. I entirely agree with this review. Could it be that after decades of hits, George Strait is getting a bit lazy? This song is just not fit for the King of Country Music. I was hoping George Strait would give us something good, but this is a big disappointment.

  3. “I agree. I was surprised to hear this on the album, because it didn’t seem up to George’s standards. It’s something I would expect Rascal Flatts to try to pass off as profound.”

    That seems to be the problem to me. A legendary artist like should not be able to get away with recording a song like this. Ever. But that’s overlooked because George Strait is “the king” so it doesn’t matter…right?

    To be fair, Rascal Flatts could get away with this though. They’re reputation is based on recording songs that can be overly sappy and a tad overdarmatic. If that’s the standard you set for yourself, you should be able to get away with it. If you prove yourself to be the king, however, it’s unacceptable.

  4. Good point, K. I’m definitely not going to give George a pass for recording songs like this just because he’s George Strait. And I could also see Rascal Flatts singing this song, and possibly getting away with it. If I already dislike this song after hearing it paired with George’s great voice and purely country instrumentation, I can only imagine how much I’d hate it if it were delivered by a whiny, self-indulgent vocalist and obnoxious rock and roll guitars.

  5. Aww, come on people! Dean wrote it with his daughter! And George had written with Bubba…circle of life…keeping it all in the family…etc.

    What does everyone think should’ve been the next single off his “Twang” album? (and remember, he just released two upbeat songs in a row!)

  6. Ben,

    I don’t think this is evidence that Strait has become “lazy.” For starters, it’s hard to imagine an entertainer putting in less time on his career than Strait anyway. He does minimum touring, doesn’t do many interviews and makes even fewer music videos. I think it’s just one song that he felt like recording–for whatever reason–and he did it. It should have remained an album cut, but then…nobody asked me.


    Unless you’re one of the songwriters–or a close personal friend or relation–I’m not sure it matters that Dean Dillon co-wrote it with his daughter. What matters is, the song is weak. As for the next single, I really liked “Easy as You Go.” It’s a pretty good story song, but isn’t as preachy as most songs with similar subject matter. I like the sound of the song.

    Incidentally, I got to realizing that this is the 15th year since “Strait Out of the Box” was released. I was kind of hoping a second box set would come this year.

  7. Wow… sounds like a box of crackers and bottle of wine are needed to go with that cheez! “Country” music is chock full of those making their “career” of such bunk… but King George?? Perhaps he has gotten lazy and believes the “he can sing anything!” hype.
    Lame, George…. really lame. Save this kinda of stuff for cheezmasters like Rascal Flatts… namely cuz then I KNOW I will never hear it!

  8. Although I think George is one of the best artists in music, and I do enjoy a lot of his material, I don’t think anyone should be surprised he’s chosen to release such a weak cut.

    Must we forget the prior cheese of “River Of Love,” “It Just Comes Natural, “True,” or “Twang?”

    Personally, I think the song is medicore, but I can certainly think of worse songs and artists. I would rather listen to this than “I try so hard to be a redneck it’s painful” Craig Morgan, “I can’t get off the island and when I do it sounds like I need to be there” Chesney, or pesudo rockers Aldean and Church, among many others.

    Furthuremore, George COULD chose to pick better material, and not try to cater to the current radio sound. If he chose to not worry about airplay or chart numbers. But he chose to record this, so I don’t think people should be defending him, because he is in control of his career.

    Also, country music IS based upon songs like this, is it not? Belive it or not, songs like this touch on real emotions, and strike a chord with many- after all, real life is based upon moments and reflections like this- no matter how bland or self-indulgent they may be.

    By the way, Rascal Flatts have released some cheesy songs, but they have also been smart enough to NOT release them as singles. (:
    In conclusion, if you don’t want to hear songs like this, shouldn’t you just turn off the radio? Just asking.

  9. K,

    I personally liked (to varying degrees) all four of the Strait songs you cited as “cheese.” The thing that sets this one apart for me is that it tries so hard to be a “message” song, but it’s shallow. The other songs weren’t terribly sophisticated, either, but they didn’t pretend to be.

    I hate to go back off-topic, but since I was the one who first invoked their name:

    As for Rascal Flatts…if they have recorded cheesier fare than “Mayberry” then I’m double-glad I’ve never subjected myself to any of their albums. Their radio fare is vapid enough.

  10. “Life’s not the breath you take but the moments that take your breath away” is a quote from the movie HITCH. does dean dillon think his unoriginality would go unnoticed??

    i don’t know whether or not HITCH is the origin of this quote.. either way, it doesn’t matter.

    as a songwriter, this song IMMEDIATELY annoyed me.

  11. The quote did not originate from “Hitch” – it was actually an old (Irish?) proverb that’s been around for who-knows-how-long, which they made reference to in “Hitch.”

  12. I totally disagree with you people – I think this is one of the best’s songs I have heard in a long time – the words to me are amazing and very meaningful and his voice on this is superb and the melody is wonderful – I give this song an A+ and more – You rock George~

  13. Ok First of all this is the 4th single off the CD. Most only release 3 which the first three of George’s were great…..and yes they were much better than his 4th. I don’t think George is getting lazy….this CD is great and one slow song that isn’t great doesn’t mean he is lazy. If the whole album we boring then i would agree. And by the way, didn’the write/co-write 3 songs on the album? Don’t think he’s lazy…………

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