Today's installment of our 20 favorite George Strait songs, which we began Wednesday, comes with word that Billboard is projecting his brand-new Here For a Good Time to debut on top of next week's Billboard 200. It will take some work, but he could just knock off Lil Wayne's Tha Carter IV. With the buying power of country fans and the popularity of the the new album's lead-off single, it could happen.
We also found out last week that George's frequent songwriting collaborator, son George "Bubba" Strait Jr., will become a father in the coming months. Expect a tearjerker about being a grandpa by the time George Sr.'s next album comes around. In touring news, Strait will be taking Martina McBride on tour over the next year to support the album. There are no Houston dates as of yet, but we have no problem driving to Austin again to see the man. Now we just need to get Houston's Robert Ellis on the bill.
This round of Strait cuts includes a new song from Good Time that has already become a fave, and two of his biggest, most recognizable recordings.
15. "Lone Star Blues": Alongside go-to guys like Dean Dillon, Strait has increasingly begun saving a spot or two on his albums for some of Texas' finest songwriters - Rodney Crowell, Guy Clark, Robert Earl Keen. On the brand-new one, he nails the tall-walkin' swagger and hell-with-it humor of Delbert McClinton's barrelhouse travelogue: "Got laid off at Brown & Root, and on my way back to Cut & Shoot/ I lost my wristwatch and my boots/ Shootin' dice with a dude from Houston." Chris Gray
Written By: Delbert McClinton Originally Released On: Here For a Good Time (2011)
14. "The Fireman": A lot of Straiters complain that this one was absent from Strait's 2004 mega-hits compilation, 50 Number Ones, but the track actually never hit the top slot, only making it to #5 on the US country charts. It did appear on the sequel to 50, 2007's 22 More Hits. This is another Strait song you may not quite "get" when you are younger, but when the fireman imagery, and "a little mouth to mouth" become clear, you stare at the radio and can't help but laugh. Let a player play. Craig Hlavaty
Written By: Mack Vickery Originally Released On: Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind (1984)
13. "I Should Have Watched That First Step": This wonderful two-step full of head-smacking regret comes from my choice for Strait's finest album via the Merle Haggard playbook: "I should have watched that first step/It was a mighty big step/When I started stepping out of line."
Written By: Wayne Kemp Originally Released On: Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind
12. "All My Ex's Live In Texas": One of Strait's most massive career tentpoles, and one everyone surely knows by heart, also doubles as a lesson in Texas female geography. Girls in Galveston are crazy, Temple gals will call the law, and Strait practices transcendental meditation.
Written By: Sanger D. Shafer & Lynda J. Shafer Originally Released On: Ocean Front Property (1987)
11. "Lovesick Blues": As his career eased into poppier territory in the early '90s, Strait's commercial fortunes eclipsed both his influences and his peers; only Garth Brooks kept up for a while, and he had to swing around on wires at his concerts to do it. Still, Strait continued to stud his albums with traditional country keepers like this ace Hank Williams cover to show there was little danger of his forgetting his roots. He still hasn't.
Written By: Cliff Friend & Irving Mills Originally Released On: Chill of an Early Fall (1991)
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BONUS: GEORGE STRAIT'S LONGEST SONG TITLES
"If You're Thinking You Want a Stranger (There's One Coming Home)" "Every Time You Throw Dirt On Her (You Lose a Little Ground)" "Fifteen Years Going Up (And One Night Coming Down)" "My Old Flame Is Burning Another Honky-Tonk Down" "Don't Make Me Come Over There and Love You" "I've Seen That Look On Me (A Thousand Times)" "Leavin's Been Comin' (For a Long, Long Time)" "She's Playing Hell Trying to Get Me to Heaven"