Sports Radio guy, Dan Patrick, always asks his listeners to call-in to his show on Mondays with their best and worst of the weekend. The subject should be sports related; I suppose but if I’d have called this might qualify. AT&T stadium, the sports palace Jerry Jones built for his Dallas Cowboys, was filled to absolute capacity Saturday night by just ONE cowboy; a cowboy who plays guitar not football. That would be the best of the weekend. Unfortunately, it would also be my worst because it was the last time that cowboy, George Strait, would ever be seen again on tour.
It’s too bad because country music needs George Strait out there to keep the pop influenced pretenders aware of what is real. So far as I know, George Strait never entered the stage flying on a wire or amid exploding fireworks. He just walked out there wearing his hat, boots and Wrangler blue jeans..strapped on his acoustic guitar and, with a nod to his “Ace in the Hole” band just started singing “Pure Country.” No flash except for an occasional smile. No stage gymnastics. Just this gifted singer with a knack for interpreting songs that can make you think, laugh even cry standing up there holding the audience under his spell on every note.
I have gone hot and cold on country music over the years; cold on most of the real old stuff where all you needed to get attention was knowing how to play a couple chords on a guitar, a rhinestone suit and the ability to rhyme words like “love-above” “heart-apart” “beers-tears” “truck-luck.” Carrying a tune was optional.
Hot on Buck Owens, Patsy Cline, Charley Rich, Dolly Parton, Glen Campbell, Charlie Pride, Tanya Tucker, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and a bunch of others whose sound was and is unique. Merle Haggard never needed electronic harmony dubbing on any of his records.
That’s what has set George Strait apart from the hundreds of empty hats that dominate the country music awards shows these days.
Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of talented people working in the industry; Brad Paisley and Vince Gill come to mind but no one can touch George Strait for long term success; a bona fide country music legend with a legacy that spans forty years of performing..chalking up 60 number 1 singles. Nobody in the history of the music recording business has done that.
I think, besides the wonderful way he sings his songs, the thing people love about George Strait is the way he carries himself..on stage and off. At 62, he hasn’t changed much at all. He’s still fit as a country fiddle, still married to the mother of his children and still uncomfortable talking about himself..much less bragging about his accomplishments.
With dozens of musical friends on the rotating stage (a reluctant concession to show biz in order for all 104 thousand people in the building to get a glimpse of him) Strait told the emotional crowd toward the end of his final concert that he will remember their cheers forever.
I don’t go to concerts (although I can’t wait to spend over 100 bucks for a ticket to see 68 year old Cher appear in that fish net body suit at the Denny Sanford Premier Sioux Falls Events Center next fall) but I would have liked to have been in Dallas for that one last Saturday night just to be a part of history.
Musical history that’s not likely to be repeated.