George Strait has never been a man of many words. So when he speaks, you lean in and listen.
Talking with Joe Pappalardo of The Dallas Observer recently about a new tequila brand he’s touting, George Strait had some interesting comments about where country music appears to be headed, confirming what many others believe—that it’s trending more towards the traditional.
“I don’t see a lot of my influence out there in country music today, out there being played on the radio,” Strait said, chuckling. “The country music scene is always changing, and the music is always changing. I’ve seen the pendulum swing this way and back this way. It’s very country, and then not so country. I think right now it’s kind of trending back to more traditional country music, which is what I like and I like to do. So I’m glad to see that. But I can’t put anybody down for having success in the business, which is just tough … I’m not saying I have to like it, but I just know how tough it is.”
With the mainstream success of folks like Chris Stapleton and William Michael Morgan (who may have a #1 song here shortly, and is sometimes compared to Strait in his sound), as well as the continued rise of more independent country names such as Sturgill Simpson and Cody Jinks, it’s hard to argue with Strait’s assessment. The pendulum couldn’t have swung in any more opposite direction in recent years with Bro-Country and superstars like Sam Hunt.
Strait goes on to explain how he was a part of another pendulum swing.
“I think it’s just a natural thing,” Strait says. “I don’t know why it is. When I got signed at MCA records in 1981, you had all kinds of things going on, shows like ‘Pop Goes the Country.’ The thing was to get a crossover hit, and that would sell more records. They wanted a pop sounding country song to get the pop music lovers and country music people to buy it. And I never was into any of that. But I came around at the right time. Traditional country music kind of came back and there were a lot of artists who started doing it, like me, Alan Jackson, Randy Travis.”
Some other interesting nuggets from the interview include that Strait listens to SiriusXM’s Outlaw Country or Willie’s Roadhouse instead of country radio, and likes Kacey Musgraves, whose been opening his shows in Las Vegas for him.
He also dropped the interesting nugget that he’s been recording with another country music traditionalist who it seems to have dropped off the face of the earth when it comes to new material.
“I just recorded a song last week with Jamey Johnson,” Strait says. Whether it’s for a Strait record or a Jamey Johnson record remains to be seen, but it’s promising to hear Jamey’s in the studio at all.
Undoubtedly country music works in cycles, and the recent years we have seen that cycle trend more towards pop and music of less substance than ever before. But the music is changing once again, and the influence of artists like George Strait could be coming back to the forefront, or at least get a proper seat at the mainstream dinner table. At least George Strait seems to think so.