By 1988, George Strait’s commercial success and critical acclaim landed him on the Grammy broadcast, during which he performed his award-nominated hit from the prior year, “All My Ex’s Live in Texas.” The performance thrust King George into a global spotlight, shared with acts ranging from Metallica, Tracy Chapman and “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” singer Bobby McFerrin to yet another prime-time collaboration between Dwight Yoakam and Buck Owens.
Songwriters and married couple Sanger D. Shafer and Lyndia J. Shafer wrote “All My Ex’s Live in Texas” for Strait. Ironically, Sanger wrote an earlier Strait standard, “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind,” with his prior spouse, Darlene.
The September 1987 release became Strait’s fourth straight number one single and his 11th overall chart-topper. Over 30 years later, the list song about jilted lovers remains one of Strait’s best-known hits and bears a title as synonymous with country music for non-fans and casual listeners as “Tear in My Beer” or “Stand By Your Man.”
The song was nominated for the Best Male Country Vocal Performance Grammy, a prize awarded that night to Randy Travis for his album Always & Forever. Additional nominees include Hank Williams Jr. for his Born to Boogie album and a couple of hipper choices: Steve Earle for Mile 0 and Dwight Yoakam for Hillbilly Deluxe.
Surprisingly, it was Strait’s only Grammy nomination in the ’80s–a time when his chart success was one of the few constants in an evolving industry. He showed up on the Recording Academy’s radar again for the 1997 album Carrying Your Love With Me and its title track. As of 2019, Strait has been nominated for 16 different awards with only one victory: the Best Country Album prize for 2008’s Troubadour. Those numbers seem slim, even if an artist with 60 number one hits doesn’t need Grammy wins to confirm his spot in popular music history.
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