The comfortingly reliable George Strait mixes it up a bit during his 1992-1993 run of singles with a cover of a beloved classic, hardcore country, a surprising country rocker, and a sweet love song for good measure.
Strait ably tackles the Hank Williams classic. He doesn’t surpass the original, but it’s cool that he brought the song back in 1992. Imagine if somebody tried to do that now.
Written by Irvin Mills & Cliff Friend
Listen: Lovesick Blues
“Gone as a Girl Can Get”
“Gone As A Girl Can Get” boasts one of the most interesting Strait productions, featuring superb, jaunty instrumentation that elevates a good composition to a great song.
Written by Jerry Max Lane
Listen: Gone as a Girl Can Get
“So Much Like My Dad”
This downbeat single finds a man searching for answers for why is lady is leaving him and he knows he’ll find it from the example of his dad, because he’s so much like him. In a clever twist, however, he doesn’t ask his dad, but rather, asks his mom: “But if I’m so much like my dad, there must’ve been times you felt her way. So, tell me word for word what he said that always made you stay.”
Written by Chips Moman & Bobby Emmons
Listen: So Much Like My Dad
“I Cross My Heart”
Is there another pledge of devotion that defines 90s country music more than this love song? In another’s hands, this could be way too icky-sweet, but in King George’s hands, it’s just right.
Written by Steve Dorff & Eric Kaz
Listen: I Cross My Heart
It’s always seemed counterintuitive for a song that begins with “When you hear twin fiddles and a steel guitar” to rock as hard as this song does, but the fact is that it’s as catchy and infectious as all get-out, so almost all is forgiven.
Written by Steve Dorff & John Bettis
“When Did You Stop Loving Me”
To make up for the previous rocker, Strait goes the other direction and adeptly sinks his teeth into a pure country weeper with a deliciously heartbreaking performance.
Written by Donny Kees & Monty Holmes
Listen: When Did You Stop Loving Me
“Easy Come, Easy Go”
I would have liked to have been listening to country music when this song was released as a single, as I’m sure it would have surprised me to hear Strait singing something sounding quite like this. The song promoting the dissolution of a relationship with no regrets is country, with a little groove and an over all chill vibe.
Written by Aaron Barker & Dean Dillon
Listen: Easy Come, Easy Go
“I’d Like to Have That One Back”
This song, however, portrays a lost relationship rife with regret. Strait’s performance, supported by strains of lonely steel, fully captures the pain of losing a good love due to one’s own negligence.
Written by Aaron Barker, Bill Shore & Rick West
Listen: I’d Like to Have That One Back
Even in 1992 George couldn’t bring back “Lovesick Blues.” His version was his worst performing single to date thanks mostly to the yodeling. So from a radio perspective, it bombed. That it managed to hit #24 was big even back then. He vowed never to do a song like this ever again. Now, it probably wouldn’t even chart. Imagine trying to explain who Hank Williams is to a 2013 country fan?
“I’d Like To Have That One Back” is probably my favorite recording in this bunch. As much as I admire “I Cross My Heart” (and it’s placement in the plot of the Pure Country Movie) I think I’ve heard it a little too much over the years. But it’s still a great song.
Great job, Leeann!
You’re right, Jonathan, but I can’t even imagine something like this charting at all today. While he said he wouldn’t try something like this again as a single, we’ll see that he did release a cover of George Jons’ “Love Bug” in the next batch of singles, which I also can’t imagine being done today. My memory is a little hazy right now, but I can’t think of a cover of a classic cracking even the top thirty in the past 10 years, at least.
My memory is a little hazy right now, but I can’t think of a cover of a classic cracking even the top thirty in the past 10 years, at least.
Does “I Told You So” count? That’s the only one I can think of off the top of my head.
Very fine work on these reviews, Leeann. I also think it’s great that Strait had the guts to send a Hank Williams cover to radio, even if it didn’t pay off as well as he might have hoped.
Such a fine set of songs here. Especially love “So Much Like My Dad” and “I Cross My Heart.” I think it’s time for me to go revisit a few great Strait hits!
Yes, that does count. I personally wish it’d been more country, but I give Underwood big props for covering it and releasing it as a single.
I think for a classic country song to work as a remake today, the artists’ best bet is to make it their own. For example, I had no idea that “Love Bug” was a George Jones song first until last year. Strait made it his own so I couldn’t tell. I did think it could’ve been a Buck Owens song (sounds like his natural delivery).
You asked the question about what classic country songs have been covered and charted successfully the last 10 years. Couldn’t answer that one, no clue. Just wait 10 years though and your answer will be crystal clear. That will of course be when a new crop of aspiring artists start covering the “classics” like “Dirt Road Anthem”, “Sure Be Cool If You Did”, “Wanted” (Hayes not Jackson) and the reigning ACM Single of the Year “Over You”. Won’t it be “great”!
While I’ve always known it was a Jones cover, due to my grandfather’s music collection, I can definitely hear Buck Owens in Strait’s “Love Bug” performance.
I forgot to say that “I’d Like to Have that One Back” holds a special place for me, because it was the Strait song that was making the chart run when I fell in love with country music.
Speaking of songs that were covers. I had no clue who Hank Snow was and always thought “I’ve Been Everywhere” was a Johnny Cash original. Hank Snow’s version was the lady jumping out of the cake yelling surprise. To a fan of more modern 80’s-90’s country such as myself, I think of “I’ve Been Everywhere” as a Cash song, even after hearing Snow’s version.
As far as Strait covering songs as singles:
If You Ain’t Lovin’ (You Ain’t Livin’) (#1) 1988 – previously recorded by Faron Young in 1954 (#2 for him)
Today My World Slipped Away (#3) 1997 – prev. recorded by Vern Gosdin (#10 for him in 1982/83)
Tell Me Something Bad About Tulsa (#11) 2003 – prev. recorded by Merle Haggard then his son Noel (#75 for Noel in 1997)
Desperately (#6) 2003 – prev. recorded by Bruce Robinson in 1998
The Seashores of Old Mexico (#11) 2006 – recorded by Hank Snow in 1971, Freddy Weller in 1972, Haggard himself in 1974, and Haggard and Willie Nelson in 1987 recut the song as a duet. Snow’s version was a Top Ten hit in Canada, peaking at #6 on the RPM Top Country Tracks charts.