Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ed McMahon: 1923-2009

"Hi-Yo!" was a familiar phrase heard for years on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. Delivered by Ed McMahon, it became as synonymous with Ed as the greeting he delivered at the start of each episode bringing out Johnny Carson night after night/week after week/year after year for 30 years. Ed and Johnny's on-air partnership went further than the late-night show. Ed was Johnny's side-kick on the game show, Do You Trust Your Wife, later re-titled Who Do You Trust, for a number of years in the late 1950's prior to the two of them leaving that show to become a fixture on late-night TV.

I had always liked watching Ed whenever he'd appear on TV talk-shows and during the conversational moments on the Tonight Show when Ed sat on the couch or the chair and became involved in the Carnac skits, especially. As was the custom, Ed was the straight-man in the various comedy sketches that Johnny and company appeared in...

In the early years on through the middle period, specifically the mid to late '70s, Ed and Johnny performed in a lot of sketches. Carnac was the most popular and best-remembered but Ed was also on hand during a quirky sketch about a woman named Aunt Blabby who had a similar personality, almost, to Jonathan Winters character of Maudie Frickert. Carson appeared as Aunt Blabby and the concept of this skit was having Ed be an interviewer who would then proceed to bring up a lot of words synonymous with older people and death...causing Aunt Blabby to utter a one-liner or show some sign language with her cane...in the thumbnail image below we see a typical exchange between Ed and Johnny in an Aunt Blabby skit...


Ed and Johnny...bantering about day-to-day activities...late 1970's. Johnny passed away four years ago in 2005


Ed, being the announcer, often did live commercials in the early days of the show and he became famous for his loud laughter...there'd be a skit going on and over the audience's laughter you'd hear Ed laughing in his distinct way. This distinct laugh became a running joke on the show and on other program's that spoofed Carson, most notably Saturday Night Live.

Throughout Ed's involvement on The Tonight Show, he branched out into other area's. In addition to being Carson's side-kick, Ed could be seen every year, starting in 1973, on the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon each Labor Day weekend. McMahon became involved in the MDA behind-the-scenes as well and made what was his final appearance on the telethon last year...his 35th year as co-anchor of the telethon. You can visit the MDA web-site for pictures of Jerry Lewis and Ed McMahon.

Photobucket In the 1980's he became popular with an alternative audience probably too young to be viewers of The Tonight Show when he became host of the syndicated program, Star Search. In the picture above, Ed is host of a 1990 episode...and not much had changed appearance wise three years later...


On the final episode of The Tonight Show in May 1992 Ed joked that Johnny should appear on Star Search if he yearns to be on TV again. Ed hosted the talent show program for 12 years, 1983-1995, it airing usually on Saturday or Sunday evenings or late-night. It pre-dated American Idol even though on Star Search home viewers didn't vote on the contestants...the studio audience voted in case there was a tie between the panel of judges. In the Championship series, the official judges were left out while the studio audience played judge. Several singers and groups and comedians went through the show on their way to fame. Notable: LeAnn Rimes, Drew Carey, Jenny Jones, Britney Spears, country group Sawyer Brown, Bill Engvall, Alanis Morissette, Jessisa Simpson, and on and on...

In addition to hosting Star Search, he and Dick Clark became synonymous with blooper programs. Originally, both Dick Clark and Ed McMahon hosted individual blooper programs in 1982-1983 but then they were paired together in one all-encompassing program in 1984.


The series that became TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes came about as a series of specials in the early 1980's. A lot of networks jumped on the blooper bandwagon and soon a blooper craze was underway. The gimmick of the shows was seeing well-known actors and actresses messing up their lines on camera during rehearsal. The element that was missing in all of the copy-cat shows was the practical jokes...where a celebrity would be taped/filmed in either an embarrassing situation or in a situation that often resulted in a low-key actor becoming hostile. At just the right moment, the celebrity would be informed that they were being featured on Bloopers and Practical Jokes and it was all a joke. It was basically a Candid Camera kind of scenario. Each program consisted of recurring segments...one that I remember the most was a segment where an individual or a couple appear in disguise and audience members have to try and figure out who the mystery person happens to be. In one episode Don Adams and Barbara Feldon appeared in heavy make-up...revealing themselves by segment's end...ripping off their made-up disguises to audience applause. Dick Clark usually hosted this segment.


This sort of blooper program wasn't new but it hadn't been on mainstream television in years which helped the concept during the early '80s and it was a ratings hit each time NBC would air them. It became a weekly series in the mid '80s and then became a series of specials again as the 1990's dawned. The show, at one time, was also called Super Bloopers and Practical Jokes. The series continued to appear on the NBC schedule off and on...usually airing as mid-season filler programming whenever a show was canceled. Dick Clark took the show to ABC in 1998 and new blooper programs continued to air periodically through 2004...sometimes during rain delay's of baseball games on cable channel, TBS, a rerun of the show will air. Both Dick Clark and Johnny Carson produced the blooper programs...in other words, Dick Clark Productions and Carson Productions.

Still, after all of these assignments, Ed was also popular for the TV commercials he appeared in...Budweiser being one company he did commercials for...years later he did senior citizen commercials for Colonial Penn Life Insurance and he was the spokesman for Publisher's Clearing House for quite a number of years. Here is a TV commercial from 1963 featuring Ed, a pool table, and some beer that I found on You Tube...although Ed is 40 here, his voice sounds the same as it did at 50, 60, 70, etc., etc.

Ed's legacy should be remembered for all of the wonderful laughter and smiles he brought to the program's he was affiliated with. That's the way I, and I imagine, so many others will remember him. However, in some circles, his legacy will be a mixed bag given the troubles both physically and financially that he went through during his last years and the mild controversies he dealt with during his later years. A lot of the controversy comes from an audience who is unapologetic and cynical and view Ed McMahon in the same way you'd view a nobody. His impact, nor his popularity, does not phase some people out there who love to see celebrities suffer "like everyday folks do" and for some they loved reading about the financial woes Ed suffered in his final years.

So, keeping that in mind, you'll see two extreme's at play when people discuss the life AND career of Ed McMahon all over the internet. I am not saying his final years should be ignored...but some people out there want to highlight the controversies he had the last few years with the insurance companies. They don't want to discuss the overall picture...or the overall career. It's just as wrong to ignore the negatives as it is to ignore the positives...but on some web-sites and message boards all you're bound to see is one snippy remark after the other pertaining to his final years and not his life as a whole.

Brace yourselves.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Scooby-Doo...Here You Come Again...

There is not much known about the latest addition to the Scooby-Doo universe. There is news that Cartoon Network will air, in the fall of 2009, a brand-new cartoon centered around Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby...it'll be called Scooby-Doo, Mystery Inc. which has sort of been the unofficial/official name of the amateur detectives since the series began in 1969. It hasn't been revealed what the character design will look like, though, so it's difficult to really say you're looking forward to something based simply on a premise.

Here is the official release concerning this series AND the movie...the movie will be live-action...

Scooby-Doo - Mystery, Inc.: A sleepy little village, Crystal Cove, boasts a long history of ghost sightings, poltergeists, demon possession, phantoms and other paranormal occurrences. The renowned sleuthing team of Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo arrive to prove all of this simply isn't real--but they don't realize the locals don't welcome their help. The series is produced by Warner Bros. Animation.

Scooby Doo! The Mystery Begins: Discover the never-before-told story of how a mismatched quartet of teenagers first came together before becoming known as the Mystery Inc. gang. Freddy (Robbie Amell), the school athlete; Velma (Hayley Kiyoko), the science fair-winning brainiac; Daphne (Kate Melton), the drama beauty; Shaggy (Nick Palatas), the beatnik; and Shaggy's newly adopted dog, Scooby Doo, are forced to band together to clear their names. Scooby Doo! The Mystery Begins, a Cartoon Network co-production with Warner Premiere and directed by Brian Levant (Snow Dogs, The Flintstones), is slated to premiere in fall 2009.

And so...it looks to be a Scooby-Doobie fall/winter TV season. Given that the series originated in 1969 and this is the 40th anniversary of the series it would be nice if this latest series features the 1969 character designs instead of the more up-dated designs of the last several years. Also something to ponder...it wasn't revealed if this latest Scooby series will use traditional animation or use 3-D animation like on TOY STORY, GARFIELD, and other similar films where the films are clearly computer-driven but the characters look real.

This Scooby series will be the latest in a string of Scooby cartoons that have been on the air without a break for 40 years. CBS, ABC, WB, and the CW were the homes of the series and it's sequels over the last 40 years...Cartoon Network is the series' latest home, being the network debuting "Scooby-Doo, Mystery, Inc."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

George Strait: Hit Singles, Part 2

***Alert: Portions of this blog entry was recently updated on May 20, 2012; The updates are made mention of within the blog.***

It's me again...included on this third blog about George Strait in my off-topic/Animation blog I want to single out the actual hit singles that have been released on George Strait. 

I'm going to break down the many George Strait singles by #1, Top-10, Top-20, etc etc. 

Given that Strait has very few singles that have peaked below #10, prepare yourself for an eye-popping list of hit songs from a tremendously popular country music singer. Let's start off with the Top-40 singles...Strait has three such singles...and each of them were not officially released by MCA. The following singles reached the lower Top-40 from unsolicited airplay:

1. Murder on Music Row; 2000 - duet with Alan Jackson {This song is notable as being the lowest ranked Top-40 in George Strait's career...it managed to make the Top-40 through unsolicited airplay which means a song is getting radio airplay on it's own, without help/input from the record label or a promotional team. The song became an award winner, named CMA Song of the Year in 2001 and the CMA Vocal Event of the Year in 2000, and is a bigger hit than it's chart performance would indicate.}

2. Christmas Cookies; 2002 {This holiday single marks the only Top-40 Christmas song in George's career; during the holiday's radio played this song the most.}

3. Texas; 2005 {From the Somewhere Down in Texas album, this ode to all-things Texas became a Top-40 single on it's own probably on the strength of it's airplay on country radio stations in Texas.}

It wore my hands out typing up such a LONG list as that!!

Let's move on to the singles that MCA officially released but did not make it into the Top-10:

1. Down and Out; 1981 {This single hit the Top-20, Strait's second single release, and it featured references to the themes sang about in "Unwound", his first Top-10 hit, with an almost similar melody and phrasing.}

2. Lovesick Blues; 1992 {This single reached the Top-30; it's a remake of a country classic by Hank Williams; it was the first official single from Strait that didn't at least make the Top-20...and only his second single to not make the Top-10, after "Down and Out" in 1981. This was the fourth single from his 1991 album, Chill of an Early Fall.}

3. King of the Mountain; 1997 {This reached the Top-20 and it's really a good country song but radio didn't embrace it like they did the other songs from his 1996 Blue Clear Sky album. This song had originally been recorded by George Jones in 1991 but not released as a single.}

4. Don't Make Me Come Over There and Love You; 2001 {This Top-20 single was a bit of a rocker...it shown that Strait was experimenting with his sound and the style of songs that had come to define him over the last 19 years; The song is from his self-titled album, George Strait, that was released in 2000 and it's the only album in his career to not have a Platinum or higher certification; it's a Gold album still...and because of this the album has kind of garnered the reputation as being weak which is furthest from the truth. The album didn't have sufficient single releases, just three, with this one peaking in the lower Top-20, and it lacked a lot of publicity...which are two things that'll cause any album to go under-rated; it needed another single in the same league as "Go On" to push the sales.}

5. Tell Me Something Bad About Tulsa; 2003 {Originally a minor hit for Noel Haggard, one of Merle's sons, the song was written in 1978 by Red Lane and it seemed tailor-made for Strait...the song was what the industry would refer to as a lazy ballad...it was a slow ballad about a break-up and the song's title used sarcasm, actually. It almost made the Top-10 for Strait, peaking in the Top-15. The slow going ballad perhaps had lost it's punch by the time it reached it's peak position and it couldn't go much further. It's hard to tell. It was the lead-off song from Honkytonkville, Strait's 2003 album.}

6. The Seashores of Old Mexico; 2006 {This song has another Merle Haggard connection and it peaked in the same position as "Tell Me Something Bad About Tulsa"; Merle actually wrote and recorded this "Seashores..." song back in the early 1970's. Merle and Willie Nelson later recorded it as a duet and named one of their duet albums after the song. Strait's version is excellent and is one of the three singles from Somewhere Down in Texas. Strait's version was made into a music video.}

Update: May 20, 2012...

7. Twang; 2009 {This is the title track of Strait's 2009 album; It became the second single following the massive success of "Living For the Night"; Unlike it's predecessor, though, "Twang" peaked in the Country Top-20 and speculation circled from fans that the reason for this was due to the song's celebration of a roots music sound not heard on mainstream country music radio stations; Another reason for the single's Top-20 finish was perhaps due to the timing of the release...this is an uptempo summer kind of song...but it was released in late October 2009...climbing the charts during the cold months of late winter 2009, early 2010; I know it sounds simple that a song's release day can make all the difference in it's chart run but yet time and again it proves to be the case; The Twang album would feature 4 major country hits and it would be almost 2 years before a follow-up album hit the store racks...the single releases from this album all had lengthy chart lives; This would also be one of the few albums to not feature a #1 single from Strait.} 

And here are the singles from George Strait that reached the Top-10...the Billboard #1 hits are written in bold lettering while the other #1 hits from other weekly music charts in America are written in Italics...take a deep breath...

1. Unwound; 1981 {This is Strait's first single on the Billboard chart and it hit the Top-10; the first of many.}

2. If You're Thinking You Want a Stranger; 1982 Top-5 hit

3. Fool Hearted Memory; 1982 #1

4. Marina Del Rey; 1983 Top-10

5. Amarillo By Morning; 1983 Top-5  {Update as of May 20, 2012: This single reached #1 on the Canadian Country chart; I was informed that this single reached #1 in Canada by a visitor of this blog entry who left a comment a couple of years ago; Since I'm updating this entry, rather than copying and pasting it's content on a new blog entry, I decided to acknowledge the comment this way; However, chart stats are typically kept respective to the countries in which the stats were accumulated...in my list I referenced the American music charts and so I didn't make note of a single's achievement in other countries...and I should have made note of that in the first place but in my excitement about putting this blog entry together I forgot to; But, technically, this single reached #1 in Canada and even though it doesn't factor in with his American #1 hit total it's still a #1 single as far as overall career stats are concerned.}

6. A Fire I Can't Put Out; 1983 #1

7. You Look So Good in Love; 1984 #1

8. Right or Wrong; 1984 #1

9. Let's Fall To Pieces Together; 1984 #1 {Strait was named ACM Top Male Vocalist of the Year.}

10. Does Ft Worth Ever Cross Your Mind; 1985 #1 {Strait won the ACM and CMA Album of the Year for the album named for this single; he was named the ACM Top Male Vocalist for the second year in a row}

11. The Cowboy Rides Away; 1985 Top-5

12. The Fireman; 1985 Top-5

13. The Chair; 1985 #1 {Strait was named the CMA Male Vocalist of the Year for the first time}

14. You're Something Special To Me; 1986 Top-5

15. Nobody In His Right Mind Would've Left Her; 1986 #1 {Strait was named the CMA Male Vocalist of the Year for the second year in a row}

16. It Ain't Cool To Be Crazy About You; 1986 #1

17. Ocean Front Property; 1987 #1

18. All My Ex's Live In Texas; 1987 #1

19. Am I Blue; 1987 #1

20. Famous Last Words of a Fool; 1988 #1

21. Baby Blue; 1988 #1 {Strait was named ACM Top Male Vocalist this year}

22. If You Ain't Lovin' You Ain't Livin'; 1988 #1 {this was originally a hit single for Faron Young}

23. Baby's Gotten Good at Goodbye; 1989 #1

24. What's Going On In Your World; 1989 #1

25. Ace in the Hole; 1989 #1 {Strait won the CMA Entertainer of the Year after several nominations; he was also named the ACM Entertainer of the Year; President Bush awarded Strait the Presidential American Success Award.}

26. Overnight Success; 1990 Top-10 {This broke the string of 11 consecutive #1 hits dating back to the summer of 1986.}

27. Love Without End, Amen; 1990 #1 {Strait's first multi-week chart-topper, it stayed at #1 for five weeks; Strait was named the CMA Entertainer of the Year for the second year in a row and on the album cover for Livin' It Up, he wore a belt buckle that had the honor written across the buckle; he has not won this particular award since.}

28. Drinking Champagne; 1990 #4 {I've always liked this song...some critics felt it was a bit too pop given the arrangement.}

29. I've Come To Expect It From You; 1990 #1 {This was another 5 week chart-topper}

30. If I Know Me; 1991 #1 for 2 weeks. {the American Music Awards named Strait the Favorite Country Male Vocalist.}

31. You Know Me Better Than That; 1991 #1 for 3 weeks.

32. The Chill of an Early Fall; 1991 Top-5 {this reached #1 in Radio and Records; the next single, "Lovesick Blues", hit the Top-30 and the next two singles peaked below #1 in Billboard; some critics were speculating that the influx of new artists that emerged in 1989/1990 and were reaching their stride during 1991-1992 would likely replace Strait on the charts because, after all, they assumed that after 11 years on the popularity charts his career couldn't possibly go on much longer in the Top-10...those critics have eaten their words many times over.}

33. Gone as a Girl Can Get; 1992 Top-5

34. So Much Like My Dad; 1992 Top-5 {this reached #1 in Radio and Records}

35. I Cross My Heart; 1992 #1 for 2 weeks {this returned Strait to #1 in Billboard nearly a year after "You Know Me Better Than That" had hit the top...and although Strait would not have quite the #1 streak he enjoyed during 1986-1989, he nonetheless remained a consistent presence in the country Top-10 and at #1.}

36. Heartland; 1993 #1

37. When Did You Stop Loving Me; 1993 Top-10 {this single and the above two were from the movie soundtrack, Pure Country; a movie in which Strait starred in.}

38. Easy Come, Easy Go; 1993 #1 for 2 weeks

39. I'd Like To Have That One Back; 1994 Top-5 {hit #1 in Radio and Records}

40. Lovebug; 1994 Top-10 {this was a Top-10 single for George Jones in 1965}

41. The Man In Love With You; 1994 Top-5 {hit #1 in Radio and Records}

42. The Big One; 1994 #1

43. You Can't Make a Heart Love Somebody; 1995 #1

44. Adalida; 1995 Top-5

45. Lead On; 1995 Top-10 {hit #1 on Gavin country chart; this represents the biggest chart discrepancy of his career...this single ranked below the Top-5 on Billboard but made #1 on another chart. it's counted among his overall #1 hits.}

46. Check Yes or No; 1995 #1 for 4 weeks {CMA and ACM Single of the Year; Music City News Single of the Year; Music City News Video of the Year}

47. I Know She Still Loves Me; 1996 Top-5 {hit #1 in Radio and Records; this single and "Check Yes or No" were pulled from his career spanning box set, Strait Out of the Box which became one of the biggest selling box sets in history.}

48. Blue Clear Sky; 1996 #1 for 2 weeks {Strait was named the CMA Male Vocalist of the Year in 1996.}

49. Carried Away; 1996 #1 for 3 weeks

50. I Can Still Make Cheyenne; 1996 Top-5 {hit #1 in Radio and Records; the album, Blue Clear Sky, was named the ACM, CMA, and American Music Awards Album of the Year; and it won a few fan-voted awards from Music City News.}

51. One Night at a Time; 1997 #1 for 5 weeks

52. Carrying Your Love With Me; 1997 #1 for 4 weeks

53. Today My World Slipped Away; 1997 Top-5 {hit #1 in Radio and Records; originally a Top-5 hit in 1983 for Vern Gosdin, who also co-wrote the song; the ACM and CMA named Strait the Male Vocalist of the Year for 1997 and the album, Carrying Your Love With Me, was named Album of the Year by the ACM, CMA, and the American Music Awards.}

54. Round About Way; 1997 #1 for 2 weeks

55. I Just Want To Dance With You; 1998 #1 for 3 weeks

56. True; 1998 #2 for 4 weeks {hit #1 in Radio and Records for 3 weeks; Strait was named the CMA Male Vocalist of the Year for the third year in a row and Favorite Country Male Vocalist by the American Music Awards.}

57. We Really Shouldn't Be Doing This; 1998 Top-5 {hit #1 in Radio and Records.}

58. Meanwhile; 1999 Top-5  {Updated May 20, 2012: hit #1 on Canada's Country chart}

59. Write This Down; 1999 #1 for 4 weeks

60. What Do You Say To That; 1999 Top-5

61. The Best Day; 2000 #1 for 3 weeks {this was Strait's 36th Billboard chart-topper, breaking a tie between Conway Twitty and Merle Haggard, who both had 35 solo #1 singles...Strait would need 2 more to tie with Merle Haggard, who had three additional #1 hit duet's, giving him a grand-total of 38 #1 hits; Strait would need 4 more to meet Conway's grand total of 40 #1 hits; Conway had 5 chart-topping singles with Loretta Lynn, which gave him 40 altogether.}

62. Go On; 2000 #2 for 3 weeks {hit #1 in Radio and Records; this was by far the biggest single from Strait's self-titled CD.}

63. If You Can Do Anything Else; 2001 Top-5

64. Run; 2001 #2 for 4 weeks {hit #1 in Radio and Records}

65. Living and Living Well; 2002 #1 for 2 weeks

66. She'll Leave You With a Smile; 2002 #1 for 2 weeks {this #1 was Strait's 38th on Billboard, tying him with Merle Haggard's grand-total; when factoring in all of the weekly music charts, this was Strait's 50th single to reach a #1 position in America.}

67. Cowboys Like Us; 2003 #2 for 2 weeks {Strait received the National Medal of Arts.}

68. Desperately; 2004 Top-10

69. Hey Good Lookin'; 2004 Top-10 {this is a group sing-a-long featuring Strait along with Jimmy Buffett, Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Clint Black, and Toby Keith; it was officially a Jimmy Buffett single, released by RCA Records.}

70. I Hate Everything; 2004 #1 for 2 weeks {this was Strait's 39th Billboard #1 and the 51st overall...it's from the double album, 50 Number Ones which compiled every single to make the #1 spot on the various charts: Billboard, Cashbox, Radio and Records, and Gavin America. This single reached #1, so the double-album featured 51 #1 hits altogether.}

71. You'll Be There; 2005 Top-5 {this single was one of the highest debuting of his career...it had all the makings of going all the way to #1 but it didn't; Strait and Lee Ann Womack won the CMA Vocal Event of the Year for "Good News, Bad News".}

72. She Let Herself Go; 2006 #1 {this was Strait's 40th #1 on Billboard, tying Conway Twitty's 1986 achievement for most #1 singles...it was Strait's fifty-second #1 in America overall, 3 behind Conway, who had racked up 55 #1 singles altogether in his career. Strait hit #1 with this in January 2006.}

73. Give It Away; 2006 #1 for 3 weeks {this was the record setting #1 single...the 41st to reach #1 on the Billboard country chart...breaking the late Conway Twitty's 20 year achievement; this single was co-written by Bill Anderson and it won ACM awards as Single and Song of the Year, and won the CMA Song of the Year; Strait was elected into the Country Music Hall of Fame...making him the second artist behind Eddy Arnold to be inducted while still actively having Top-10 hits; The single was certified Gold by the RIAA.}

74. It Just Comes Natural; 2006 #1 for 2 weeks. {the album named for this single won the CMA Album of the Year.}

75. Wrapped; 2007 #2 {hit #1 on the Canadian country chart and on Media Base; becoming his 55th #1, tying Conway Twitty's achievement; Media Base in an American music survey and therefore it factors in with Strait's #1 hit total; If it had hit #1 just in Canada then it wouldn't have been acknowledged as his 55th chart topper in America.}

76. How 'Bout Them Cowgirls; 2007 Top-5 {this was the fourth single from Strait's album, It Just Comes Natural; this was the first album from him in several years to boast four Top-5 singles}.

77. Shift Work-duet with Kenny Chesney; 2008 #2 {this duet was released in December 2007 and rocketed up the chart...peaking at #2 by the spring of 2008; it was officially a Kenny Chesney single, which is why it was released on his label, but Strait delivers an adequate amount of vocals to qualify it as a duet; it's a good-time/feelgood song and not meant to be gripping or compelling but some critics at the time destroyed this song because of it's good-time approach and sing-a-long lyrics.}

78. I Saw God Today; 2008 #1 {this is noted as Strait's highest debuting single of his career...it debuted in the Top-20 in February 2008 and by April it was #1...his forty-third on the Billboard chart and his fifty-sixth overall...moving ahead of Conway Twitty, who had sent 55 singles to the #1 spot on the various weekly music charts; given the big debut, some felt it odd that it only spent 1 week at #1; it won the CMA Single of the Year and was certified Gold by the RIAA.}

79. Troubadour; 2008 Top-10 {this biographical song was the title track of his 2008 album and the single peaked in the low Top-10 on the country chart but in Canada, it reached the Top-5; The single was certified Gold by the RIAA; a lot of it's charm, of course, was the fact that the song was basically written for an artist of Strait's longevity and experience; the album of the same name won Country Album of the Year at the Grammy awards...making the album the first ever Grammy win of his career and it was named the CMA Album of the Year; this single moved Strait into #2 on the All-Time list of Top-10 singles; the previous artist in the #2 slot was George Jones who had achieved 78 Top-10 hits...this single from Strait became his 79th Top-10, moving Jones to #3 and Conway Twitty, who was ranked #3 with 75 Top-10 hits, to #4; Eddy Arnold still commands the #1 slot with 92 Top-10 hits.}

80. River of Love; 2009 #1 {this became Strait's 44th Billboard chart-topper and the 57th overall; it was at the top for a week and then fell down to #9 and then was completely off the singles chart the following week as a victim of Billboard's latest chart policy changes; the single became his 80th Top-10...firmly establishing himself as the artist most likely to give Eddy Arnold's all-time Top-10 total some serious competition; the ACM named Strait it's Artist of the Decade: 1998-2008; he received the honor in the spring of 2009.}

This brings us to "Living For the Night"...a song that should become his 81st Top-10 and hopefully his 45th Billboard #1 {58th overall}.

****Updated Top-10 Information as of May 20, 2012****

81. Living For The Night; 2009 #2 {As far as commercial singles for MCA Records are concerned, this particular haunting ballad represents the first time that George Strait is listed as one of the songwriters; Strait had co-wrote a few of his earliest recordings prior to his arrival at MCA in 1981 and those late '70s recordings were showcased on the 1995 Strait Out of the Box collection; One self-written album track after his arrival at MCA appeared on his second album, Strait from the Heart; This marked a new direction, of sorts, because several future releases would also feature songs co-written by Strait and his son, Bubba; This indeed became his 81st Top-10 single.}

82. I Gotta Get To You; 2010  Top-5  {This is the third single from the Twang album of 2009; The album was released in August 2009 and this became the third single in February 2010; It's an up-tempo recording but a bit different than the previous single, "Twang", in that this one is a straight ahead love song...something that is almost certain to have a positive reaction from the country fans in general}.

83. The Breath You Take; 2010  Top-10  {By the time this single was released, the Twang album had become one month shy of 1 year old...this fourth single from that album hit in July 2010; It returned Strait into the ballad territory once more and it contains a life lesson within it's lyrics; The single had a slow climb to the Top-10...it hit in late summer but ultimately it reached the country Top-10 and was nominated for a Grammy; Fans and country radio were then put in a semi-lengthy drought as a follow-up from Strait didn't surface until nearly half a year...}

84. Here For a Good Time; 2011 #2  {This single, co-written by Strait and his son, became a big hit during the summer of 2011...hitting #1 on the Media Base chart, the 58th single from Strait to reach #1 on an American music chart; This single, an up-tempo song, celebrates living in the moment and is one of the few mainstream country songs to make reference to moonshine as Strait joyously sings about how to live life to the fullest; It was the first single from the album of the same name, Here For a Good Time, which also marked the first time in his lengthy career that an album was named for a song that Strait had a hand at writing; The single was the long-awaited follow-up to "The Breath You Take" which had been a recurrent on country radio since the early winter of 2010.}

85. Love's Gonna Make It Alright; 2011  Top-5  {This was the second single from Strait's 2011 album and it has a sing-a-long feel much like "Here For a Good Time" has; This was a mid-tempo recording, not explicitly up-tempo like it's predecessor; The song hit in November 2011 and to date it's his 85th single to enter the country Top-10 and when it reached #1 on the Media Base country chart recently it became his 59th single to do so on an American country music chart...and ironically Strait was 59 years of age at the time of the accomplishment; Remember that I'm only factoring in the singles that hit #1 in America; 2011 marked Strait's 30th year with MCA and 30th year as a Top-10 hit maker.}

"Drinkin' Man" was released as a single in late April 2012. It is the third release from Here For a Good Time and it features Strait and his son, Bubba, as co-writers. Time will tell the chart life of this single...some hope it becomes his 60th #1 country hit. A few days ago on May 18th Strait turned 60...and fans from all over hope that he will reach #1 for a 60th time to match his age. He hit #1 for the 50th time, at age 50, with "She'll Leave You With a Smile" in 2002.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

George Strait: The Hits

Country music superstar George Strait first became noticed on the national scene in 1981...since then he has carved out a career that's certainly the envy of pretty much everyone in country music. The album you see here is his 1983 release, "Right Or Wrong". When you think about it...so much has changed in country music during the last 5 years...but we're talking about the last 28 years when it comes to George Strait! The thing that many people bring up when they mention Strait is his consistency at the top...44 of his singles have claimed the #1 spot in Billboard magazine...another 13 claimed the #1 spot in other music charts...giving him an overall total of 57. If you take away the singles that topped the other charts and just go with the Billboard data he's still the artist with the most #1's. Conway Twitty back in 1986 had achieved his 40th #1 country single on Billboard, giving him the most #1 songs on the Billboard country charts. This accomplishment stood unbroken for 20 years...George had actually tied Conway's total at 40 #1 hits when the single "She Let Herself Go" hit #1 in late 2005...but it wouldn't be until Strait issued a single called "Give It Away" in 2006, a single that went on to become his 41st Billboard chart-topper that enabled him to move into first place and claim the most #1 country singles on Billboard.

George capped off 2006 when he was elected into the Country Music Hall of Fame and during the CMA Awards telecast he sang "Give It Away", his record breaking 41st #1 single. It was only the second time an artist actively on the radio and having major hit singles had been elected into the Hall of Fame...Eddy Arnold was the first.

Since that time he has returned to the top in Billboard three more times: "It Just Comes Natural" later in 2006, "I Saw God Today" in 2008, and "River of Love" in 2009. In addition to those #1 hits, he has placed three more in the Top-10: "Wrapped" hit #2 in the summer of 2007, "How 'Bout Them Cowgirls" hit #3 in the fall of 2007, and "Troubadour" hit #7 in the fall of 2008.

A duet with Kenny Chesney, "Shift Work", hit #2 in the spring of 2008...it was falling down the charts at the time George's solo single, "I Saw God Today", was climbing up the charts. "I Saw God Today" debuted on the charts at #19...giving Strait the highest debuting single of his career.

At the time of this writing Strait's current single, "Living For the Night" is speculated to become his 45th #1 on the Billboard chart. The likelihood of anyone tying or breaking George's #1 hit total won't happen for another 20 some years and in reality country artist's just aren't having the kind of enduring career's they once had. It took Conway something like 17 and a half years, 1968-1986, to rack up his 40 #1 hits while it took George close to 24 years, 1982-2006, give or take a month or two, to reach 41 #1 hits.

Photobucket A lot of that difference is simply due to the times. In Conway's time the sales of singles were primary and their airplay was secondary...meaning that a lot of singles were pushed into the #1 slot based on how they were performing in the stores with lesser emphasis on how they were performing on the radio. You could have a single with low airplay reach #1 because the sales were strong...and Conway was very popular and he sold single upon single and their performance in stores influenced the radio stations.


George, however, his career started on the national scene in 1981 when radio was still playing singles that were selling in the stores. Of course, because airplay was secondary, it wasn't significant in the success-failure of a single. If a single sold well it was guaranteed a Top-10 or #1 ranking. As time went by the chart policies changed gradually...throughout the mid 1980's there were no multi-week #1 hits. Every week there was a new #1. In the 1990's things changed even more...airplay started to become the primary factor in compiling the country chart and when this happened the songs started staying at #1 longer because they were being played more and more and the sales figures were not factored into the equation anymore.

And so with this change came longer stays at #1 by other artists...meaning that George would have to wait his turn at the top...and when it came his turn he, too, often remained at #1 for 2, 3, and some cases 4 weeks in a row...and over the course of time those weeks add up that by 2006 it had taken George 24 years to break Conway's record setting 40 #1 hits.


The reason why I went into all of that is hopefully to explain that it doesn't mean George is any less popular than Conway was because of how it took George longer to reach 41 #1 singles. I hope to convey that the reason it took George longer is because of the different chart policies in place now that weren't in place during Conway's time on the charts. I've often read that Conway was more popular because he scored 40 #1 hits in 17 years while it took George 24-25 years to do so. So, I hope my little history of chart policies enlightens some out there why it took George longer...it had nothing to do with Conway being more popular or whatever and everything to do with how the charts are compiled now. This is nothing against Conway Twitty, either...readers of my blog's will know that I'm as big a fan of Conway's as well. I'm just stating the facts about the chart policies and why it took George more years to reach 41 chart-toppers.

George is still cranking out the hit songs and hit albums...the latest single, "Living For the Night", is already in the Top-30 and on it's way to being his 45th #1 single according to all of the predictions. It is the lead-off single from an upcoming album tentatively titled, "Twang".

The ACM, Academy of Country Music, late in 2008 named George it's Artist of the Decade for the years 1998-2008. The award honored the artist who had the biggest impact and the most success during a 10 year period. The previous honoree's of this special award were:

Garth Brooks: 1998 recipient
Alabama: 1988 recipient
Loretta Lynn: 1979 recipient
Eddy Arnold: 1969 recipient

A special was taped in April 2009 and it aired a month later on CBS...it became the highest rated network program of the night. Given that George had been having hits since 1981 there were plenty of jokes about how "over-due" this type of an award was and Garth, who won the Artist of the Decade trophy for the 1990's, had to present the award to George since that's the policy. In 2019 George will have to present the 6th Artist of the Decade recipient at the ACM Awards.

In addition to all of this, his most recent album, "Troubadour", was certified Platinum and this gives George a total of 33 albums that have been certified Platinum which puts him at #1 among country music singers and #3 among pop artists behind The Beatles and Elvis.

The hit singles you may be asking? He has racked up quite a few during the last 28 years...there has never been a period of down-time in his career. In a career that's lasted for so long you'd think that there'd be a period where his singles peaked in the Top-30 or Top-20 before rebounding back into the Top-10 but for George Strait he's never had that sort of occurrence. Except for a stray Top-20 finish here and there, pretty much everything he's released as a single has hit the Top-10...in fact, 80 singles have reached the Top-10 for Strait. His 80th, "River of Love", went all the way to #1. In the process it gave Strait his 44th #1 single. As far as Top-40 placings are concerned, "River of Love" was his 89th single to enter the Top-40 Country chart.

Photobucket So, with "Living for the Night" on the Top-40 chart, this gives George Strait 90 Top-40 singles...hopefully it'll become his 81st Top-10 and 45th #1 single. George scoring his 90th entry on the Top-40 country chart puts him at #4 behind Johnny Cash, Eddy Arnold, and George Jones. His 80 Top-10 hits ranks him at #2 behind Eddy Arnold, who has 92. George Jones is #3 with 78 Top-10 hits.