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Strait has discovered that when he isn’t wearing a cowboy hat people often don’t realize that he is George Strait.In San Antonio, where he lives, he can usually visit restaurants unmolested, so long as he doesn’t smile too widely—he is famous for his smile, which is bright and crooked.In 2012, he announced that he was quitting the touring life, and, after a two-year sendoff tour, he played a final show at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, in front of more than a hundred thousand people.He didn’t quit recording, though, and in 2015 he announced a series of weekend concerts in Las Vegas.His onstage outfit, which has barely changed in forty years, includes, along with the cowboy hat and cowboy boots, a button-down shirt and bluejeans, ironed stiff enough to form an exoskeleton.A promotional contract obliges him to wear Wrangler jeans, and decades of ranching and roping inclines him to wear them stacked—that is, long and bunched up, so that he could, if necessary, mount a horse without fear of exposing any extra boot.In Las Vegas, he waited until near the end of his set for “Amarillo by Morning.” His crowds are generationally diverse, and some of the older fans had begun to sink into their seats by then.
“I’ve got some oceanfront property in Arizona / From my front porch, you can see the sea,” he sings.
“Honey,” he said, “I was just in there, and I didn’t see him.”He is, by some measures, the most popular country-music singer of all time and, by any measure, the most consistent.
Since 1981, when he made his début, he has placed eighty-six singles on Top 10 country chart, and more than half of them have gone to No. Everywhere that there is a country radio station, there are generations of listeners who regard Strait’s music as part of the landscape; they are intimately connected to these songs, even if they can’t quite say that they are intimately connected to the man who sings them.
Strait released “Amarillo by Morning” in 1983, and it helped establish him as one of the decade’s first new country stars.
The song was so popular that he sometimes had to play it twice in a set, back when he was playing as many as four sets a night in Texas roadhouses.
Strait doesn’t believe in disappointing paying customers, so he endeavors to play every song that anyone wants to hear.