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.“If you buy that, I’ll throw the Golden Gate in, free.”A George Strait concert is a master class in the art of restraint.“He just stands there,” an executive once marvelled, “and people go fucking crazy.” Strait leans away from the high notes, sways gently with the up-tempo songs, and says just enough to remind fans that they are not, in fact, listening to his records; all night, he strums an acoustic guitar that no one can hear, maybe not even him.By comparison, Strait’s version, the only one that most people will ever hear, is masterfully plain.He occasionally approaches a syllable from above, using a mournful grace note, but he has an easy, conversational way of putting a melody across, as if he were singing to keep from talking.Strait prefers to give his audience as few distractions as possible: he likes to play on a stage in the center of the arena floor, with four microphones arranged like compass points; every two songs, he moves, counterclockwise, to the next microphone, so that people in each quadrant of the crowd can feel as if he were singing just to them.Because he was playing in the round, there was no backdrop, and nothing in the way of pyrotechnics, with the important exception of that smile.
She said, “My husband says that George Strait is in there, cutting a record, and I told him that can’t be true. ”Strait’s response was not, strictly speaking, a lie.
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.
“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.