Every #1 Single of the Nineties: George Strait, “You Can’t Make a Heart Love Somebody”

“You Can’t Make a Heart Love Somebody”

George Strait

Written by Steve Clark and Johnny MacRae


#1 (1 week)

February 24, 1995

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

March 11, 1995

A heartbreaker that showcases Strait’s unique interpretive abilities.

The Road to No. 1

George Strait launched Lead On with the No. 1 single “The Big One.”  He earned another chart topper with the second release from the album.

The No. 1

“You Can’t Make a Heart Love Somebody” is a great example of what separates George Strait from the sea of imitators that he’s inspired since his arrival on the country music scene over forty years ago.

It doesn’t have the strongest melody, and the chorus would’ve been clunky if delivered by a singer with less capability than Strait.  What it does have is a compelling storyline that hasn’t been told a million times before, and Strait delivers it with a sense of deep empathy for both parties of this dinner scene as an earnest marriage proposal ends in rejection.

As I’ve written before, there is something truly special about the Lead On project, which I consider Strait’s strongest album of the nineties.  Strait choosing to open the album with this heartbreaking ballad sets the tone for what’s to come, and is a far better representation of the album’s quality than the lead single.

The Road From No. 1

Lead On produced two more singles in 1995: the top five “Adalida” and the top ten title track.  Strait then previewed his career-spanning box set with the single that would return him to the winner’s circle at the 1996 CMA Awards.  We’ll cover it at the end of 1995.

“You Can’t Make a Heart Love Somebody” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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  1. I actually have zero recollection of ever hearing this one on the radio, as it came out just before I got back into country, and it likely got very little to no recurrent play on any of our stations. I wouldn’t hear it until picking up the Lead On album somewhere in the following decade. I admit that it took a little longer than usual for me to really warm up to this one because of the lack of a stronger melody, but it’s really grown on me since then. I agree that Strait’s performance and the storyline are the best parts, and I also don’t think any of the younger male artists at the time could’ve pulled it off as well. I also like how this further established the signature smooth, more mature style that Strait would have throughout the Tony Brown years. It almost reminds me of something that could’ve been out in the 70’s, especially with the strings in the background.

    Dang, I could’ve sworn both “Adalida” and “Lead On” were also number ones, and I was looking forward to those! Those were the two Strait songs that were all over the radio when I was getting back into country in the middle of 1995. “Lead On” actually made it on to the first tape I recorded since getting back into country, while “Adalida” was just EVERYWHERE. I even remember seeing a commercial featuring George singing that song with a girl in the audience getting a little too excited (perhaps her name was also Adalida?), and it ended with Strait doing his signature crooked smile and telling her something like “It’s just a song, now!” My dad and I saw that one night while were looking at the TV section in Hecht’s at the mall (before they became Macy’s, and yes, they actually sold TV’s back then).

  2. Strait begins to solidify his reputation as the king of country music with performances like this.

    I love this song.

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