George Strait Week, Part 1: Sad, Angry George

Note: All this week, Rocks Off is previewing George Strait's first Houston show in several years by looking at different aspects of King Cowboy's catalog.

A few months back, when Morrissey played Jones Hall, we were asking ourselves if there was an artist out there - a Texas artist, namely - who trafficked in the same torment and heartbreak as Mozz. Not in the same grandly emotional ornate way, but in a more sober and uniquely stoic Texas fashion. The way our fathers would deal with the heartbreaking machinations of a Texas girl or ex-wife.

Interestingly enough, we had also been nursing a severe '90s country fetish since Rocks Off's grandfather passed away last summer. He left us a treasure trove of the last 60 years in country music in his office. One of his favorite artists was George Strait, and we even used "The Best Day" in a slideshow we played during his funeral. We found that after Grandpa Rocks Off's death and all its subsequent emotional turmoil, Strait seemed to be the only artist that soothed us.

Even better, when we later went through a crazy breakup, every single Strait song seemed to echo the feelings in our brain, for better or worse.

As we watched Morrissey that April night run through a whole career of lovelorn epics, Strait was the only person who came to mind that matched him, for us at least. Morrissey's pain is valid and his artistry can't be denied, but for sheer Texas heartache the only solution is Poteet native George Harvey Strait. Through a nearly four-decade career, the former U.S. Army infantryman has sung songs for the sensitive guy from a point of view that sounds awfully familiar.

Most of Strait's songs are super-depressing and deal with all manner of angry broads and fading love. Damn, just pull out "I Know She Still Loves Me" to see that most of the women in Strait's are cold and heartless automatons. That said, Saturday night, Strait hits Reliant Stadium for a super-sized gig in the house that McNair built. We thought we would spotlight a few of King George's he-man woman-hating songs ahead of the show.

"Baby's Gotten Good at Goodbye": This song is about a woman who keeps threatening to leave, and the last argument seems to be the proverbial last straw. She leaves without shedding a single tear, which seems to be the final death knell for the protagonist, or antagonist as it may be. We never really hear what the man did wrong in Strait songs for the woman to be so vicious. Hmmm...

"I've Come to Expect It From You": Lyrically this is one of Strait's most angriest songs. Seriously they could double as lines for a bitchin' metal song, or at worst a really good screamo song: "A million lines and I bought 'em every one/ You don't care/ You rip and tear every dream I've counted on." Divorcecore at its finest.

"Famous Last Words of a Fool": If there's anything dudes are good at it's saying shit that they don't mean at the worst times. Strait tells her that "you won't break my heart and I don't love you." Who hasn't pulled out a dagger while at the end of the rope and landed a fatal wound? Famous last words indeed, the kind that gets your clothes thrown on the curb and your tires slashed.

"You Can't Make a Heart Love Somebody": There's a sweet candlelight dinner going on, and the man pulls a diamond ring from his pocket. What happens next is a horrific car crash of dramatics and refusal. She counters his proposal with "My heart's the only part of me/ That's not in love with you." Rocks Off has had his fair share of romantic horse-hockey go down, but that line is like a heated razor cutting open your sternum.

"I Know She Still Loves Me": We can't quite tell if the characters in this song are married or just living together, but either way it paints a rocky picture. The couple kisses each morning, but the idea of a future between is sadly nonexistent and wholly unknown. The woman sure enough loves him, but she doesn't particularly like him. Easily Strait at his most heartbreaking and human.

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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty