Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: George Strait, “I Just Want to Dance With You”

“I Just Want to Dance With You”

George Strait

Written by Roger Cook and John Prine


#1 (3 weeks)

June 6 – June 20, 1998

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

June 5, 1998

George Strait breezes to the top with a John Prine cover.

The Road to No. 1

After four straight No. 1 singles from Carrying Your Love With Me, George Strait kept his streak alive with the first two singles from his 1998 release, One Step at a Time.

The No. 1

One thing Strait never got enough credit for was his willingness to cover the songs of critically acclaimed singer-songwriters and send his versions to radio, giving them a hefty payday.

John Prine originally recorded “I Just Want to Dance With You” in 1986, and there was a pop cover of it that made it to the top twenty in England in the early nineties.  But it was Strait that turned it into a mega-hit.

It’s easily one of the breeziest records of Strait’s career.  He’s so laid back and comfortable that even his whistling sounds like it’s out of the corner of his mouth.  It’s a light-hearted number, not quite a ditty but close to being one.

I hope Prine bought himself something nice with the royalties.

The Road From No. 1

Next up is the second single from One Step at a Time, which will complete Strait’s run of six consecutive chart-toppers.

“I Just Want to Dance With You” gets a B+.


Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

Previous: Tim McGraw, “One of These Days” |

Next: Mark Wills, “I Do [Cherish You]”


  1. I hope Prine bought himself something nice with the royalties.

    He bought a couple more decades of life, if what I heard was correct, which is that JP used the royalties from that song to pay for his lung cancer surgery.

      • I thought it was pretty cool too!

        I’ve always liked the sound of this particular song, with that steel and gut-string guitar, and Strait’s laid-back vocal. It was far and away my favorite of the singles released from this album.

  2. The King is just consistently showing us how cool he is with so many different styles. I adore this song. Need I say more?

  3. I also adore this song! Peter is right on the money with his comment on Strait showing us how many different styles he could pull off at this point of his career. These last few number ones are a great example of that with “Today My World Slipped Away” being the classic weeper, “Round About Way,” being a straight up barroom honky tonker, and now “I Just Want To Dance With You” which has more of a 50’s pop feel. Not only is this one of Strait’s breeziest and laid back songs, but it’s definitely also one of his most charming yet.

    One thing that struck me about this song right away the first few times hearing it was just how old school it sounded, yet at the same time, it somehow sounded right at home on country radio in 1998. It seems that the more smooth and sophisticated direction that mainstream country went in during the late 90’s also allowed songs with older mellow styles that recalled past decades to succeed, at least by established superstars like Strait. I can imagine this song also being done by guys like Perry Como or Ricky Nelson in the 50’s. I even hear a bit of a 60’s Marty Robbins feel. Strait’s delivery of this entire song reminds me of the smooth charm of all of those guys mentioned. The whistling during the break was also such a nice touch, and it only adds to the record’s charm. And as the Pistolero already mentioned, the guitar work and the old school sounding steel are very lovely sounding, along with the fiddle and piano. Furthermore, the lyrics have such a refreshing, cute, and innocent charm about them without it coming across as being too cutesy. I also like how cleverly in the chorus it goes from “that’s what they intended dancing for” at the start to “invented” at the end.

    I remember hearing “I Just Want To Dance With You” the first handful of times during the Spring of 1998 when I was still in 6th grade. I noticed it was already all over the radio not too long after “Round About Way” was a hit. George just absolutely seemed to be on fire during this time period, and I found myself loving every latest song he came out with, and being a bigger fan of his more than ever, which looking back, is pretty neat considering how long he’d already been making records by then. I had also received his second Greatest Hits album for my birthday a bit earlier that year, which gave me a new appreciation for his older 80’s music, as well. But back to “I Just Want To Dance..,” I remember it being stuck in my head one day during my 3rd period English/Language arts class. One of my classmates in that class, Kathleen, was wearing this really cute skirt with a very nice classy top that reminded me of 50’s style fashion, and I was thinking her outfit went nicely with the old school style of the song that was in my head. :)

    Of course, “I Just Want To Dance With You” was still receiving tons of airplay after I graduated from 6th grade. It even made it on to a tape I started recording around that time, but unfortunately never finished, and it ended up being recorded over sometime later. I remember the female DJ at the station always loved to go “Cha-Cha-Cha!” after the song’s ending around this time. Also on that unfinished tape was Toby Keith’s “Dream Walkin’,” Ty Herndon’s “A Man Holding On (To A Woman Letting Go),” and Shania’s “You’re Still The One. Dang, I wish I finished that tape! lol.

    “I Just Want To Dance With You” is also yet another song that takes me back to the trip to Lancaster, PA that my mom, dad, and I went on not long after Summer break started that year. It especially reminds me of us staying in the Hampton Inn at the lovely, peaceful Greenfield Rd location, which was the first time we ever stayed at that hotel. Next to the hotel was also a very nice, classy little restaurant simply called the Olde Greenfield Inn, which we tried for breakfast one time during the trip and really enjoyed. I still think of that place very fondly, and I’m so happy to see it’s still in business today. Another song that instantly reminds me of us staying at the Greenfield Hampton Inn is Vince Gill’s “If You Ever Have Forever In Mind.” In fact, it was playing on the radio just when we first pulled up to the hotel on our first day in PA. :) “If You Ever Have Forever…” is also another one of those old school mellow songs I mentioned above that seemingly benefited from the genre’s smooth and sophisticated direction in the late 90’s. Both George and Vince’s songs were just a perfect fit for the beautiful and quiet Greenfield location.

    Finally, this song was also featured on the country playlist on the airplane that we were on when my mom, step dad, and I flew to California later in August of 1998. The country program also occasionally played a “throwback” track from the same artist, and in the case of George Strait, I believe “Unwound” was played right after “..Dance With You.” It was the first time I’d ever heard that song, and it just blew my mind when the “DJ” of the program mentioned Strait had been kicking around since the 70’s and that “Unwound” was his first single from 1981. I had already knew Strait had been on the scene for quite a while now, but it was pretty neat to learn just how long. For Steve Wariner, the throwback selection they played for him was “Why Goodbye,” which I also heard for the first time on the plane and really loved. I was also developing a major fascination with 80’s country by 1998, and that was a big part of what kept it going. :)

    I also really love and keep coming back to Strait’s performance of this song on the 1998 ACM Awards. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wb4n7dnW4nA I just love that little laugh and big grin he does right after the whistling part as if to tell the audience “Yep, that was really me whistling on the record!” :) And man, I just love how classy he always looked at these award shows!

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