Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: George Strait, “All My Ex’s Live in Texas”

“All My Ex’s Live in Texas”

George Strait

Written by Lyndia Shafer and Sanger Shafer


#1 (1 week)

July 11, 1987

George Strait’s quintessential quirkiness makes “All My Ex’s Live in Texas” one of his most enduring hits.

He sings the entire song like he’s looking over his shoulder for trouble, while also making it clear how much he enjoyed the trouble he made leading up to his hiding out in Tennessee.  He makes unconventional phrasing choices that heighten the absurdity of the corner he’s painted himself in, utilizing his lower register effectively as he sings his lines like this: “It’s been roo-murred that I’ve diiied.”

The man of this song is so different from Strait himself that he’s playing a character, and he has a ball with it, likely enjoying the irony that he’s done the opposite with his life, staying put in Texas with his first and only wife, and only traveling to Tennessee for business.

It’s remarkable to me that the one-two punch of Randy Travis and the Judds tied up the top of the R&R chart for six weeks and this only went to No. 1 in Billboard.  But it’s lasted for the long haul, and like “Ocean Front Property,” the single is now certified platinum.

“All My Ex’s Live in Texas” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. Not sure if this meets qualification for a “novelty song” or not (seems highly subjective). For argument’s sake, I’ll say that it does, and add that it’s a textbook case of a novelty song done to perfection. The lyrics are endlessly clever, the delivery is delightfully playful, and the arrangement hits just the right notes at just the right moments to sell it as an undeniable earworm. Two of George Strait’s best singles came back to back and really helped give him the gravitas and currency to withstand the generational changing of the guard coming in a few short years.

    Grade: A

  2. Strait would become increasingly expert at incorporating the sounds of his heroes into his singing style whether it be Lefty Frizzell, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, or Frank Sinatra, all while managing to sound singularly like George Strait.

    This song is pure fun, a swinging smirk with a monster melody, stinging steel guitar, twanging telecasters, and a fiery fiddle.

    He is threatening to leave earth’s atmosphere with the most grounded of country hits recently.

    I would like to celebrate having first learned about transcendental meditation through this song as well as the geography of Texas through the towns name-dropped in the lyrics.

    Education can be fun when it swings!

    Oddly, one of my lasting memories of this hit is of a childhood friend’s father being so mad at George Strait’s rising fame for primarily two reasons. The first was because the song was so stupid and the second was because he hated, that at 5’10”, George was so small!

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