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March 14, 2024

Dixie Chicken Vinyl – George Strait “Strait Country”

We’ve had George Strait on the brain over the last couple of months, for some reason. Anyone else in that same boat? At the Dixie Chicken offices, we’ve taken many of Strait’s classic albums and put them on the record player, but Strait Country is the one that has gotten the most play. Maybe because it’s the start of what became a legendary career or just has so many songs that really fit a night at the Dixie Chicken. His voice is so smooth, effortlessly weaving honk-tonk nights with tales of heartache. His storytelling prowess shines through, painting vivid scenes with each note.

From the first needle drop on what became Strait’s first hit song “Unwound” you immediately feel like you’re in some sort of honky-tonk heaven. The guitar’s twang and the signature fiddle grab you before you even hear his undeniable cowboy voice. The song was originally written with Johnny Paycheck in mind, but he was in jail at the time, so the writers Dean Dillon and Frank Dycus were convinced to give it to a “new kid from Texas” and the rest is history. Dillon went on to write or co-write over 60 songs for Strait.

Some may find it interesting that this album only produced three singles with “If You’re Thinking You Want A Stranger” reaching the highest spot at #3 in 1982. The aforementioned “Unwound” went to #6 and “Down And Out” topped out at #16 on the country charts respectively. This goes to prove that chart success is only a fraction of what makes an artists greatness, as there are honky-tonk beer joints all across Texas and the world that could sing every word to the other album cuts.

The lyrics of a song like “Blame It On Mexico” have probably happened a time or two in those same beer joints and “Friday Night Fever” is relatable to anyone who just needs a night out to enjoy a few drinks with friends. These songs have become staples to hear on many nights at the Dixie Chicken and beyond.

For an album that is less than 30 minutes long from front to back, it has given us hours of enjoyment since 1981. It came out at a time when outlaw and country-pop crossover sounds were dominating the radio, but Strait steered towards his traditional cowboy roots he was raised on in Texas. As his career showed, he could effortlessly go between the western swing that inspired him, mix in a little bit of Haggard’s Bakersfield sound, and then put out some of the most amazing melodic love songs in country music history. We get a taste of all of that here in his debut album.

Strait Country gave us a small sample of what Strait would become. It’s a reminder of the power of storytelling, the magic of melody, and the timeless allure of country music. Whether you’re two-stepping across the dance floor or nursing a broken heart, this album has something for everyone. Crank it up for yourself or grab your Stetson and enjoy some of these songs with us at the Dixie Chicken!