Why George Strait Passed on Recording ‘Tennessee Whiskey’
George Strait has accrued 60 No. 1 hits over the course of his long career. That's more than any other artist in country music history, but it's hard not to wonder if it could have been 61 had he recorded the classic hit "Tennessee Whiskey" instead of turning it down.
Although he didn't write the song, Strait did have the opportunity to record it. Ultimately, he opted to pass on it, feeling that the song didn't resonate with him.
"I missed it," he said with a smile while chatting with Kacey Musgraves in a 2017 interview. The two laughed about songs that never went to No. 1 before she asked him why he didn't take a stab at "Tennessee Whiskey." Skip to the 2:40 mark in the video below to see the exchange.
Strait got pitched on "Tennessee Whiskey" in the 1980s.
"Wasn't your thing?" Musgraves asked, and Strait smiled in agreement.
Dean Dillon and Linda Hargrove co-wrote "Tennessee Whiskey," and David Allan Coe first recorded it as the title track for his album released in 1981. George Jones took it into the studio in 1983, and his version made it to No. 2 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles Chart. Most recently, Chris Stapleton included his version on his 2015 album, Traveller.
Strait has reduced his schedule dramatically in recent years, selectively releasing new music and performing only a few live dates after retiring from touring. Most recently, he released two singles in 2019 with "Every Little Honky Tonk Bar" and "The Weight of the Badge." Strait has a few shows on the calendar in 2022, including his Las Vegas residency in February, closing out the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in his home state of Texas in March and a few others.