Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: George Strait, “The Chair”

“The Chair”

George Strait

Written by Hank Cochran and Dean Dillon


#1 (1 week)

December 21, 1985

When people ask what made George Strait stand out among the sea of hat acts his success inspired, I always point to “The Chair.”

Strait’s interpretive gifts are so subtle that you need to look at a song that none of his peers or successors could have delivered so effectively.  This is the one.

The song is structured as an ongoing conversation with a woman who is sitting in a chair that never belonged to him in the first place, but that isn’t revealed until the end.  He’s awkward (“Could I drink you a buy?”), he’s smooth (“No, I don’t know the name of the band, but they’re good, aren’t they? Would you like to dance”), and he’s gentlemanly (“Later on, I could drive you home. No, I don’t mind at all.”)

But really, it’s all part of the game, as this has been a pickup strategy from the jump.  That the listeners are rooting for him instead of thinking he’s a sleaze is proof positive of his skill as a singer.

It was a risky choice for the album and especially for a lead single from the reigning CMA Male Vocalist of the Year.  Damn if he doesn’t flawlessly pull it off.

I’m not sure it’s the best George Strait single of the decade, but it’s certainly in the running.

“The Chair” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. Not my favorite Strait song, or even in my top 10 (which is not an indictment of the song at all), but I agree this might the go-to song to suggest when looking at Strait’s strength as a stylist. Love the lack of a chorus on this song, the structure is just perfect for the narrative. A unique song in an extensive catalogue.

  2. I like this song. I’d dwfinitely give it a B. But my favorite George Strait song of the 80’s is Baby’s Gotten Good at Goodbye, which i cant wait for in this feature!

  3. “The Chair” established Strait as a true stylist. His signature vocal phrasing and timing take flight on this hit.

    I thought the twist in the song was brilliant as a kid. In fact, it was exciting every time I heard it.

    It still sort of is even today.

    Incidentally, the song will always have a special spot in my heart because I discovered it was the only country song I could sing unprompted
    -from start to finish – as a lullabye of sorts when singing my youngest son to sleep as an infant. (I horrified myself by discovering how many classic country songs I could not actually sing in their entirety. I always dropped either a phrase or entire verse.)

    The other two songs I also sang every night were “Down by the Bay” and “Puff the Magic Dragon.”

    It was this Strait hit that would make me beg my mom to take me and my Aunt Marilyn to see him in concert at the Carleton Celebrity Dinner Theatre in Minneapolis, my first live concert experience ever.

    An undisputed country classic in my world.

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