More musings, on late-’90s George Strait…

People speak of various things getting a second wind, a restored energy of sorts. I think it’s safe to say that the mid-to-late ’90s found George Strait’s career catching its third wind, with a bit of a stumble in late 1996 as the last single from the phenomenal Blue Clear Sky cd, “King of the Mountain” flamed out at No. 19 on the Billboard country singles chart. I remember being worried back about that time, wondering, “surely this isn’t the beginning of the end, is it?” At the time he’d been at it for well over a decade and had just released the four-cd retrospective Strait Out of the Box. If I remember right, both Merle Haggard and George Jones both had their success start tapering off after about 18 years or so, and while the Blue Clear Sky cd ended up being a huge success both on the radio and in the record stores, still as a fan I wondered what was next after such a dismal showing. Of over 50 George Strait singles that have gone to radio, that was, if I remember correctly, only the third not to make the top 10 on the airplay charts.
As it turned out, though, I need not have worried. Not terribly long after “King” flamed out, “One Night At A Time” — the lead-off single from the next album, “Carrying Your Love With Me” shot to No. 1 and stayed there for five weeks, and the Carrying Your Love With Me cd debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard country album sales chart and No. 2 on the Billboard 200 (which charts sales from all genres) with over 194,000 copies sold its first week (Strait’s biggest first-week tally until 2005’s Somewhere Down in Texas sold 245,000-plus its first week). “Carrying Your Love..” went on to triple-platinum certification by the RIAA for shipment of over three million copies, matching the success of its predecessor in that department and yielding three No. 1 singles, including this one from the summer of 1997, the title track. Maybe not the most innovative video ever made, but it’s still a great song, from a great album, too…the man never fails to amaze me.

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