Written by Steve Bogard and Jeff Stevens
#1 (3 weeks)
August 10 – August 24, 1996
Radio & Records
#1 (3 weeks)
July 26 – August 9, 1996
George Strait’s mid-nineties hot streak continues.
The Road to No. 1
Strait’s on a roll, with three consecutive No. 1 singles from Blue Clear Sky. Following the title track, “Carried Away” did even better than its predecessor, spending an exceedingly rare three weeks at No. 1 on the Radio & Records chart without benefitting from a holiday chart freezing.
The No. 1
How hot was George Strait by 1996?
He won three CMA Awards shortly after “Carried Away” topped the charts, taking home trophies for Single of the Year (“Check Yes or No”), Album of the Year (Blue Clear Sky), and Male Vocalist of the Year.
The following fall, he’d be nominated with two different songs in the Single of the Year category, including “Carried Away.”
Back in the day, I thought this was the weakest single from Blue Clear Sky and was baffled by it being the most successful release from the album, let alone getting award show notices.
26 years later, I’m not sure what I was thinking back then. This ballad is immaculate. Flawlessly produced and performed, “Carried Away” is also stronger lyrically than I recalled, perhaps because the feather line in the chorus always threw me off. I somehow missed how beautifully the verses set up that chorus, giving grounding to the flight that takes off when it rolls around.
Maybe I’m just getting more sentimental with time, but a beautifully delivered love song that celebrates the power of a good loving woman? Nobody of his generation – hell, of most generations – does that better than George Strait. (Conway Twitty still existed though, so I can’t give him the all-time award.)
The Road From No. 1
A haunting rodeo ballad followed “Carried Away” to the top, and we’ll cover it before the end of 1996.
“Carried Away” gets an A.
Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties
Previous: Sawyer Brown, “Treat Her Right” |
One of my all time favorite ballads from George’s mid-late 90’s and early 00’s stretch of singles! This song is just about everything I love about his music from that certain period, which includes many beautifully done, classy and charming love ballads such as this. In fact, this is probably one of the most modern sounding 1996 songs featured here yet, because it could’ve gone on any of his 2000’s albums and not sound out of place. The chorus still makes me smile and gives me a feeling of joy to this day, and I especially always liked the second verse, as well, and the picture it paints with the lyrics. The feather line in the chorus was actually always one of my favorite parts when it was new, and I always wondered if that particular line was also inspired by Forest Gump. Anyone who’s familiar with the film’s beginning and end should know what I mean. :) That line actually made me think of Forest Gump before I even learned that “Blue Clear Sky” was inspired by it.
The very first time I heard it was just before my parents and I took our vacation to Maine in August 1996. I was downstairs recording it on to the tape I mentioned in Brooks & Dunn’s “My Maria,” and it actually ended up being the last song on Side A of the tape. I swear, when the song began and George started singing the opening lines, I thought I was hearing either a long lost Keith Whitley tune that was just now being released, or someone new who sounded a heck of a lot like him. The way he sang “I don’t take my whiskey to extremes. Don’t believe in chasing crazy dreams” just really made him sound like a dead ringer for Keith to me back then. Even the instrumentation in the beginning still reminds me of a Whitley song. It actually still surprises me looking back that I didn’t realize it was George right away. Of course, I’d know it was Strait after hearing it the next few times. Also during that moment I first heard this song, I thought he was saying “My feet are PLATTED firmly on the ground” instead of “planted,” lol.
Throughout much of the 90’s (and occasionally in the 2000’s and 2010’s) my parents always liked taking vacations to Maine for my mom’s birthday in August, which is the reason we always went during that month. The 1996, 1997, and 1999 trips are the most memorable ones for me, and are the ones I look back most fondly on. “Carried Away” is one of the songs that brings back the most memories of the 1996 trip for me, along with Sammy Kershaw’s “Meant To Be” and Mindy McCready’s “Guys Do It All The Time.”
I particularly remember having “Carried Away” stuck in my head one night while we were staying at a motel in Connecticut on the way back home. For dinner that night, we decided to check out this nice little restaurant right next to the motel, which coincidentally was named George’s. The whole time we were in the restaurant, the song was still going through my head! I just remember it being a really nice place with a warm and friendly atmosphere, with sort of a small town/independent restaurant charm to it. I also remember it having a lot of green textures. We all pretty much enjoyed the food we ordered, as well. It was definitely the kind of restaurant you don’t see as much these days, and I just really enjoyed my experience there. I remember us all going back to our motel room satisfied, and yes “Carried Away” was still in my head for the rest of the night, lol. This actually ended up being one of the most memorable moments from the vacation for me. :)
Thankfully, this song remained a steady recurrent for us as late as 2009/2010ish, which was not too common for many 90’s country songs by then.
The Blue Clear Sky album is one of the ones my dad got for me in 2002 when I first started building my collection of Strait albums. It’s still one of my favorites of his 90’s albums to this day. Besides the singles, I also love “I’d Just As Soon Go,” “Rocking In The Arms Of Your Memory,” and “I Ain’t Never Seen No One Like You.” I also remember thinking “She Knows When You’re On My Mind” sounded like a classic country song straight from the 60’s when I first heard it.
I believe Strait sounds so amazing during this run because he fully knew what he wanted to be doing musically. Though inescapably a mainstream artist, he seemed to rise above all the conventional restraints, limitations, and pressures of Nashville, as well as the expectations of what it meant to be a 90’s country star. He had his preferred stable of songwriters. He had his Ace in the Hole band on stage. He limited his media exposure. He called the shots. I guess I am trying to describe the difference between leading the pack and chasing the pack.
This single carries away it’s listeners with its breezy brilliance. It is utterly charming and inviting as the ride it takes us on plays with the notion of a man who otherwise lives his life pretty close to the ground getting carried away with his partner. It’s being “carried away” as a regret-free, positive experience. It’s simple, sweet, and sincere.
I pulled out the CD copy of “Blue Clear Sky” and was reminded what a wonderful collection of songs it is. It is certainly has to be in the conversation for best Strait albums ever.
Jaime, “I’d Just as Soon as Go” is my favourite cut. “She Knows You’re On My Mind Again” is a Wayne Kemp song from the late sixties!
Well, that perfectly explains why I thought it sounded so much like a 60’s country song back then. :)
If George Strait was actually still being played on the radio, they could’ve made one or more compilation albums of songs from several of his 90’s and 2000’s albums that were never released as singles, but could’ve/should’ve been and release some of those to radio. I always considered “I’d Just As Soon Go” to be one of those, especially. I’d always have that one stuck in my head all day shortly after getting that album in 2002.