Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: George Strait, “I Can Still Make Cheyenne”

“I Can Still Make Cheyenne

George Strait

Written by Aaron Barker and Erv Woolsey

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

November 15, 1996

1996 is ending on a strong note as the year’s best streak of No. 1 singles continues.

The Road to No. 1

We’re deep in George Strait’s commercial peak now, and radio is fully on board with it, as he scores his third consecutive No. 1 hit from ACM and CMA Album of the Year, Blue Clear Sky.

The No. 1

And it’s the best No. 1 from the award-winning album.

“I Can Still Make Cheyenne” pulls no punches, capturing the heartbreaking moment when a man who has put rodeo before his family learns that he has no family left to return home to.

The song begins by centering his partner’s experience in the relationship, focusing on how she felt fear every time the phone rang.  We then get to hear his chastened spirit in the words he says to her over the phone.  He is ready to come home with his tail between his legs.

But when she tells him not to bother, he doesn’t beg, cry, or plead.  He just realizes that with no home to go back to, he might as well try to make the next rodeo in Cheyenne.

It’s a song that feels achingly sad, even though both characters are ultimately getting what they want the most.  She has a new love who “sure ain’t no rodeo man,” and he’s no longer tethered by a family that he never put first as he chases his seemingly futile rodeo dream.

“I Can Still Make Cheyenne” is a complex and nuanced song that has the best singer possible delivering it, as his performance makes it easy to empathize with both her frustration and his drive to compete.

The Road From No. 1

“King of the Mountain” served as cleanup single for Blue Clear Sky, and it went top twenty, his lowest charting single since 1992’s “Lovesick Blues.”  It was followed by a decade-best string of six consecutive No. 1 hits. We’ll start covering them in 1997.

“I Can Still Make Cheyenne” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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Next: Alan Jackson, “Little Bitty”

2 Comments

  1. This song is absolutely brilliant and completely devastating, two people who refuse to see and accept their partner for who they are. Despite the finality of this conversation it feels as though this couple has likely been having similar tone-deaf arguments for years. Has a better song ever been written about ugly selfishness within a relationship?

    This song is a strong contender for my all-time favorite Strait song, single or album cut.

  2. I know I’m late commenting here, but I just gotta.

    This was also my favorite of the singles released from this album. I remember hearing it on the morning the album came out, and it got me good and revved up to go to the music store in the mall after school (this was my senior year in high school). After a few listens, it occurred to me that this song, “The Cowboy Rides Away,” and “Amarillo By Morning” could all possibly have been different parts of the same cowboy’s story, even though they came out in reverse order.

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