There are certain events in your life you will never forget. Your favorite birthday. Wedding day. Birth of your child(ren). You know, those kind of occasions. I can tell you, without a doubt, that June 7, 2014, will be one of those days for me. That day a dream came true… and I was able to see George Strait in the final concert of his Cowboy Rides Away Tour.
Cowboy Rides Away
You can imagine the scene when I received the invitation from Verizon DFW. I thought I was reading wrong. I had a horrible day and then this happened. It was only weeks before the concert and any hopes of going where lost as far as I was concerned. So when I saw the words on my screen I literally FLEW out of my chair. Screamed with excitement and could barely get out the words to tell Colby what it was. Not since my very first press invite had I been so taken back with emotion. This was going to be be THE concert of the year and I was going to be there.
And it really was.
The concert at the “Stadium Formerly Known as Cowboy Stadium” set a new record for largest indoor concert in North America with 104,793 people. It was a packed house and the profound love for King George was overwhelming.
Asleep at the Wheel opened the concert and got the night started with a little Texas swing. Once the lights dimmed and the stage was set for the King himself to walk out on stage, the crowd erupted with cheers and the anticipation was exhilarating. Seeing the Texas cowboy walk out onto the red carpet that led to the stage was almost too much to handle. Tears welled up in my eyes and a huge smile came across my face. That smile is still there. The first sight of him on the stage was invigorating.
In fact, when he walked out on stage the every voice in that stadium was heard and I could not contain the emotions permeating through every one of my limbs. Goosebumps the size of Texas rose up on my arms and legs and I was sure my heart was beating out of my chest. This man is a legend and here I was, in the same arena with him, on his very last concert, of his very last tour. No words. Emotions overtook me.
Those goosebumps remained for much of the concert. Every song brought back another memory of times past. George Strait was such an instrumental part of my adolescent years. He began his career in 1981. I was 7 years old and remember listening to him wearing my boots, Wrangler jeans, straw cowboy hat, and belt proudly displaying my name. Oh yeah, I was “country when country wasn’t cool“.
Most of his songs bring me back to days of old where I would go fishing on the river banks with my cousins with a boombox in tow. We would two-step into the night on an old concrete slab to songs such as “Marina del Ray” and “Amarillo by Morning.” Even his title song, “Cowboy Rides Away” holds a special memory as it was played at the funeral of an incredible young family member that lost his life at the age of 16. George Strait’s lyrics brought us solace as we put him to rest all those years ago. King George is more than a legend… he is a lifetime worth of memories.
George Strait would not leave that stage for the next 3 hours. This 62 year old man played his heart out to the record-breaking crowd and had a great time doing so. His familiar smile and country twang only immersed each and every fan in attendance further into his world. The ability to sit still was overcome with the desire to two-step in the aisles, clap along to the beat, sway to the rhythm, or belt out each and every word to the songs of his 33 year career.
Take a look at the set list and see what memories are stirred up in you:
- Check Yes or No (Strait Out of the Box, 1995)
- A Fire I Can’t Put Out (Strait From the Heart, 1982)
- Lovebug (featuring Vince Gill) (Easy Come, Easy Go, 1993)
- Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind (featuring Vince Gill) (Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind, 1984)
- River of Love (Troubadour, 2008)
- Lead On (Lead On, 1994)
- Fool Hearted Memory (featuring Jason Aldean) (Strait From the Heart, 1982)
- Nobody in His Right Mind Would Have Left Her (featuring Jason Aldean) ( 7, 1986)
- Arkansas Dave (featuring his son, Bubba Strait) (Twang, 2009)
- I Saw God Today (Troubadour, 2008)
- Cowboys Like Us (featuring Eric Church) (Honkytonkville, 2003)
- Easy Come Easy Go (featuring Eric Church) (Easy Come, Easy Go, 1993)
- That’s What Breaking Hearts Do (Love Is Everything, 2013)
- Marina Del Rey (Strait From the Heart, 1982)
- Here For A Good Time (featuring Sheryl Crow) (Here For a Good Time, 2011)
- When Did You Stop Loving Me (featuring Sheryl Crow) (Pure Country, 1992)
- I Can Still Make Cheyenne (Blue Clear Sky, 1996)
- Drinkin’ Man (Troubadour, 2008)
- Jackson (featuring Martina McBride) (Johnny Cash & June Carter cover)
- Golden Ring (featuring Martina McBride) (George Jones & Tammy Wynette cover)
- Give It Away (It Just Comes Natural, 2006)
- I Got A Car (Love Is Everything, 2013)
- A Showman’s Life (featuring Faith Hill) (Here For a Good Time, 2011)
- Let’s Fall To Pieces Together (featuring Faith Hill) (Right or Wrong, 1983)
- I Believe (Love Is Everything, 2013)
- Blame It On Mexico (Strait Country, 1981)
- Amarillo By Morning (featuring Alan Jackson) (Strait From the Heart, 1982)
- Murder On Music Row (featuring Alan Jackson) (Latest Greatest Straitest Hits, 2000)
- The Chair (Something Special, 1985)
- Give It All We Got Tonight (Love Is Everything, 2013)
- How ‘Bout Them Cowgirls (featuring Miranda Lambert) (It Just Comes Natural, 2006)
- Run (featuring Miranda Lambert) (The Road Less Traveled, 2001)
- You Look So Good In Love (Right or Wrong, 1983)
- I’ll Always Remember You (Here For a Good Time, 2011)
- Ocean Front Property (featuring Kenny Chesney) (Ocean Front Property, 1987)
- The Fireman (featuring Kenny Chesney) (Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind, 1984)
- Troubadour (Troubadour, 2008)
- Unwound (Strait Country, 1981)
As well as the encore that featured all of his guests on the stage singing alongside him:
- All My Ex’s Live In Texas (Ocean Front Property, 1987)
- Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash cover)
- The Cowboy Rides Away (Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind, 1984)
The superstar line-up represented a myriad of country music stars inspired by George Strait in some way or another, as well as career-long friends… and even his son, Bubba! It was a star-studded event not soon to be forgotten. The atmosphere and fact that King George himself was standing in front of you eloquently singing 41 songs in an unbridled once-in-a-lifetime concert… well, you just had to let it all go and enjoy the moment. (You can hear the whoops and hollers in the video below… the full last 7 minutes of the concert).
Bonus? Every picture, tweet, text, phone call, and even video I shared went straight out of “that stadium” without wavering or stalling. Why? Verizon Wireless. Ha!