'Strait On Til' Christmas'
George Strait shot to the top of the country charts with his debut album Strait Country (1981), and he's been there ever since, ranking with Elvis, The Beatles and Barbra Streisand as one of the most successful performers in popular music.
Strait's more traditional approach to country music has earned comparisons to Bob Wills, Hank Williams and Merle Haggard, and is frequently held up as an antidote to more slick, pop-oriented country music. His hit songs include "Unwound" (1981), "All My Exes Live in Texas" (1987), "Lovesick Blues" (1992), "King of the Mountain." (1997),
"One Step at a Time" (1998), "Always Never the Same" (1999), "Merry Christmas Wherever You Are" (1999), "George Strait" (2000), "The Road Less Traveled"(2001), "For the Last Time: Live from the Astrodome" (2003), "Honkytonkville" (2003), "Somewhere Down in Texas" (2005), and in 2006 came "It Just Comes Natural."
What do you look forward to each year about Christmas? [Strait] "Christmas morning. Itís so much fun watching people open presents and seeing the looks on their faces when you really surprise them with something they werenít expecting."
What do you remember best about family Christmas as a kid? Whatís the most fun about Christmas as a father? "What I remember the best is all the family that would come. I would usually go to my grandparentís house and it would be full of kinfolk. All of us kids would sleep on pallets on the floor but really we were too excited to get much sleep. I donít know how my grandparents did it. I just really appreciate the family time that weíre able to have during Christmas. Iím the first one up to get the fire going, put out those secret presents, and then wake everyone up. Thatís a lot of fun for me."
How do you prefer to spend the holidays these days? "At home. Itís just not the same anywhere else."
If there were one message youíd like to get across to your fans at the holidays, what would it be? "To just have fun and be thankful for all the things youíve been given. Christmas is about the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Without Him we wouldnít have anything. Remember that. "
What led you to choose the songs you have for the George Strait Classic Christmas CD? Are there any particular stories behind the individual songs Ė do any of them hold special meaning for you or your family? "I wanted to do the songs that I grew up with. By doing this it really brought back many good memories. Some that I hadnít thought of in years. I hope that my fans have the same experience when they listen to this recording."
What are some of the challenges you face when trying to create a fresh approach to traditional holiday songs? "Some of these songs have been done many many times by various artists and you donít want them to sound the same. That can be difficult at times. What we tried to do was add a little traditional country flavor to these songs and make them sound more like what I do in my records. I think we accomplished that."
What kind of overall tone did you envision for the music on this CD and how has the music been arranged to fit that? "I told my producer, Tony Brown, that I wanted to do these songs country, like a traditional country record. That wasnít too hard for us since thatís what we do on all my albums."
Is there any specific message you would like to convey to the fans about this CD? "I wanted to put together a collection of my favorite traditional Christmas songs that I grew up listening to. It was hard to narrow it down to ten of them, but I think Iíve done it. I hope these songs bring back good memories for my fans like they have for me and I hope they will play these songs on Christmas for many years."
What is it about the season and its traditional songs you find inspiring as a performer? "You start thinking about the songs you grew up hearing and singing, then trying to narrow down which ones are your favorites, and how you want to do them. Putting these thoughts together inspires me and definitely puts me in the Christmas spirit."
What types of music or what specific songs put you and your family in the holiday mood? "I like the traditional songs the most but every once in a while youíll hear something new thatís really good and fits well with the traditional stuff. Jingle Bells, Silent Night, Up On The Housetop, Christmas Cookies put me in the holiday mood."
Did Christmas music play a big part in your childhood? "Yes it did. I looked forward to it all year long and I was constantly reminded to be good or Santa might not stop at our house. Of course, he always did, but it made you stop and think before you did some things."
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