Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: George Strait, “Right or Wrong”

“Right or Wrong”

George Strait

Written by Paul Biese, Haven Gillespie, and Arthur Sizemore


#1 (1 week)

April 28, 1984

George Strait returns to the top of the chart with an old jazz standard that he learned from Bob Wills.

Unsurprisingly, his cover of “Right or Wrong” hews closely to the Wills version, which means that right next to the pop stylings of Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson, Strait could be heard singing Western swing on country radio.  

We’re still in the early Strait days of his work being derivative of his influences, but we get flickers of the peerless vocalist he would eventually grow into.  This is another one of his eighties hits that is so much better live.  As entertaining as the musicianship is, Strait nearly gets lost in it.  Thankfully, he’ll be working with more visionary producer soon enough, and the records are going to be just as good as those live performances.

“Right or Wrong” gets a B

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. I’ve been a George Strait fan from the first MCA album to the present day – I have all of his albums, sometimes in multiple formats. Because George’s music is always good, sometimes very good but rarely great, I am not nearly as passionate about his music as are many of his fans.

    I saw an interview with Strait many years ago in which he lamented that his record label really wanted him staying away from western swing, hence right or wrong was about the only time he really got away with recording a pure swing number on his own albums. He did get to do some swing efforts on his appearances as a guest artist with the likes of Asleep at The Wheel and Hank Thompson.

    I really like this recording, although if forced to choose, I would pick the Bob Wills recording featuring Tommy Duncan as the lead vocalist. I do wish his producers had given him a little more leeway with western swing. .

  2. We recently saw Merle Haggard take a Lefty Frizzell cover to the top of the charts and now George Strait does the same with a Bob Wills tune.

    This mining of artists’ musical influences is an essential part of maintaining country music’s connection with its past.

    Tracy Lawrence would find similar success with western swing styled tunes in the ’90s.

    I think Strait has already come into his own as an interpreter with this one. Sure, he will get better, but beginner George Strait is still something special.

    Consistency can be its own form of greatness, and Strait is on his way to setting the standard for rock-steady output in mainstream country music.

    Strait’s majestic Ace in the Hole band would be the first backing band I was ever aware of as a young country fan.

    I am pretty sure I have had a man-crush on Strait even since I heard “Marina Del Rey.”

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