The Strait Frustration
It’s hard to imagine that the King of Country Music, George Strait is not pleased with his musical endeavors during his first few years.
He changed producers frequently while searching for the right sound his looking for. We can say that he was unhappy for the first two producers that he had until he found Jimmy Bowen.
Jimmy Bowen joined MCA Records in May of 1984 just as work began on George Strait’s fourth album project. George went to see him, expressing his displeasure with his two previous producers. The two men mulled over various ideas about how Strait should record. George came away from the meeting satisfied that he had found his next producer in Bowen.
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The earlier work was scrubbed and new songs were acquired. Those songs include an eight-year-old song written by Sanger “Whitey” Shafer and his then-wife Darlene called “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind.”
The Song’s Composition and the Earlier Versions
The Shafers had lived in Fort Worth, Texas for a number of years before moving to Nashville. To Whitey, it seemed that Fort Worth was always in the shadow of nearby Dallas. He also thought that Fort Worth didn’t get its due recognition. After their arrival in Music City, Darlene occasionally would ask Whitey,
“Does Fort Worth ever cross your mind?”
He thought that was a pretty good title for a song and began fashioning lyrics, combining them with a melody he already had going.
Moe Bandy was the first to record “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind,” including it on his 1977 album. Keith Whitley also cut the song. Sadly, it was never released. Shafer caught Strait’s ear by playing him Whitley’s version. Strait immediately snapped up the tune. The newly-revamped album project was given the song’s title and the “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind” long play was issued by MCA Records in September of 1984. After the album came out, it was learned that Reba McEntire had been offered “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind” before it had been pitched to George. However, she passed on the song because it contained a line about beer.
The Success of the Song and the Producer
Released as the lead-off single from the album, “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind” first appeared at No. 74 in Billboard on September 29, 1984. It made for a very happy new year for Strait when the song slid into the No. 1 position on January 5, 1985, George’s fifth consecutive single to top the chart. His fourth long play garnered accolades from his musical peers. This song Strait won “Album of the Year” trophies from both the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.
Strait had finally discovered his “niche” sound and producer Jimmy Bowen stayed with him through 1992. Their partnership crowned a total of nine of his most successful album. All of those albums reached platinum status.
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Bowen produced other top acts during his long career, including Glen Campbell, Kenny Rogers, Reba McEntire, and Garth Brooks. He is also credited with revolutionizing the way music is recorded in Nashville. That revolution introduced digital technology and modernized the procedure in which certain instruments are recorded and mixed.
Strait switched producers yet again for his 1993 album, appropriately titled “Easy Come, Easy Go”. He selected Tony Brown and the hits kept on coming. George holds the perhaps-unbreakable mark of 44 number one country singles from a Billboard chart history of 85 Top Ten hits, second only to Eddy Arnold’s 92.