is the King of Country Music with 57 Number One songs to his name. His career has spanned three decades, and he is the ACM Artist of the Decade for the millennium. I can't think of a song that he's recorded that has been a dud. It was a difficult decision, but I've picked ten of what I consider to be his very best songs to create the ultimate George Strait playlist.
"Ace in the Hole"
This western swing toe-tapper was from George's 1989 release Beyond the Blue Neon
. It features the genre's requisite fiddle and steel, and it easily reached the top of the charts. It featured snappy lyrics that warn to keep an "ace in the hole" not only in poker, but in life as well. The song also provided inspiration for George as he later dubbed his road band the "Ace in the Hole Band."Download/PurchaseWatch video
"Amarillo By Morning"
While this mid-tempo rodeo tune never made it to No. 1 on its release on the Strait to the Heart
disc in 1983, it has become one of Strait's signature songs, popular not only with fans, and also critically praised for its mournful tune and traditional country-western feel. The sorrowful story of a rodeo cowboy's life riding on the circuit rings true. The song defined Strait as a western artist. "Amarillo By Morning" peaked at No. 4, and was later released as part of the 22 More Hits
as a companion piece to the 50 Number Ones
release, as a nod to songs that defined Strait's career, but didn't quite make it to the top of the charts.Download/PurchaseWatch video
This smooth ballad tells the story of a man picks up the lady in a bar by telling her she's sitting in his chair. At the end of the song he admits that he likes her, and that it wasn't really his chair after all. You can hear the smile in George's voice as he delivers that last line. The melody is relaxing, and fits the story perfectly with the highlighted steel guitar and soft percussion.Download/PurchaseWatch video
"Love Without End, Amen"
George Strait has always picked great story songs during his career. One of the very best is this mid-tempo tune about how a father's love is not based on if you were good or bad, but is given all the time. A son gets sent home from school, and he dreads facing his father. But, when he does talk with his father, the elder man tells him that "Daddies don't just love their children every now and then. It's a love without end, amen." It was the debut single from his Livin' It Up
album of 1990, and one of his many No. 1 songs.Download/PurchaseWatch video
Back in 1981, a young man named George Strait released his first single. It was a honky tonk-styled song about a man who had a fight with his lady, and she kicked him out of the house, so he decided to go drink her off his mind. While it didn't top the charts, as many of his later tunes would do, it did give him his first Top 10 song. He would celebrate his first No. 1 the following year, and by 2004, would collect over 50 No. 1 songs.Download/PurchaseWatch video
"All My Exes Live in Texas"
George Strait shows his humorous side as he relates the story of a man who has a large collection of exes living in the state of Texas. George has tongue planted firmly in cheek as he sings "Sweet Eileen's in Abilene. She forgot I hung the moon...and Dimples who now lives in Temple's got the law looking for me." The song shuffles along at a mid-tempo pace, as we learn about all those women who did this man wrong, and why he now lives in Tennessee. This No. 1 was from Strait's Ocean Front Property
disc of 1987.Download/PurchaseWatch video
"Fool Hearted Memory"
This two-stepping dance tune was George Strait's first No. 1. This mainstream country hit was perfect for jukebox play. From his Strait from the Heart
disc, it provided the first major cornerstone in what would become a monumental career. This slick number would prove to be a shining example of Strait's impressive catalog.Download/PurchaseWatch video
"I Cross My Heart"
This song was featured in the motion picture Pure Country
, which featured George Straitin his first lead acting role. The heartfelt ballad, sung so convincingly by Strait as Dusty to his love interest in the movie, is the highlight of the film. The song isn't overly country, until it gets to the steel guitar solo towards the end. This is one of the prettiest love songs ever recorded by Strait.Download/PurchaseWatch video
"Marina Del Rey"
This guitar-driven love song is accented with piano and a bit of steel. It features a story of a man who meets a woman on a trip to the coast, and when they part, and he returns to Tennessee, he realizes that he left his heart back in Marina Del Rey.Download/PurchaseWatch video
"Carrying Your Love With Me"
"Carrying Your Love With Me" was a four week No. 1 song for George from the album of the same name. It also won him the CMA Album of the Year honor in 1997. The tempo here is somewhere between a ballad and mid-tempo. The story is of a man that spends a lot of time traveling, but wherever he goes, he carries his love with him in his heart. Strait delivers an emotional performance of the tender lyrics of a man who, unlike the man in the song "Amarillo By Morning," can't wait to get back to his love. The song features a perfect balance of instruments, guitar, percussion, bass, and steel guitar.Download/PurchaseWatch video