10 Songs, 36 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Blue Clear Sky is one of the defining country albums of the 1990s, and one of the strongest song collections of George Strait’s career. At a time when country songs were being forced into one of two corners — pop or traditional — Strait showed that it was possible to combine the two without sacrificing the careful attention to songcraft that has always been at the heart of country music. The album’s centerpiece is “I Can Still Make Cheyenne” (written by Aaron Barker and Erv Woolsey), a master class in narrative songwriting. The song traces a phone call between a worn-out rodeo cowboy and his wife, and Strait sings it with the utmost sensitivity, emphasizing the emotion in exactly the right places, turning a five-stanza ballad into something with the scope of a novel. Such is the man’s art. Where most country singers sell their songs with punchlines, big hooks, and overblown sentiment, Strait is all about the substance. Every song on Blue Clear Sky illustrates a specific scene or feeling, and by the album’s end the listener feels that this isn’t only a sequence of great country songs, but a collection of short stories.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Blue Clear Sky is one of the defining country albums of the 1990s, and one of the strongest song collections of George Strait’s career. At a time when country songs were being forced into one of two corners — pop or traditional — Strait showed that it was possible to combine the two without sacrificing the careful attention to songcraft that has always been at the heart of country music. The album’s centerpiece is “I Can Still Make Cheyenne” (written by Aaron Barker and Erv Woolsey), a master class in narrative songwriting. The song traces a phone call between a worn-out rodeo cowboy and his wife, and Strait sings it with the utmost sensitivity, emphasizing the emotion in exactly the right places, turning a five-stanza ballad into something with the scope of a novel. Such is the man’s art. Where most country singers sell their songs with punchlines, big hooks, and overblown sentiment, Strait is all about the substance. Every song on Blue Clear Sky illustrates a specific scene or feeling, and by the album’s end the listener feels that this isn’t only a sequence of great country songs, but a collection of short stories.

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