On June 7, 2014, in Arlington, Texas, Ray Benson of Asleep At The Wheel walked onstage at AT&T Stadium to introduce the man regarded as the king of Country music to over 104,000 eager fans.
Now, with the release of George Strait’s new album “The Cowboy Rides Away: Live from AT&T Stadium,” all of Strait’s fans who were unable to attend this historical final show can ride on the emotional roller coaster, packed with some of Nashville’s biggest stars.
The show opened with Strait’s 1995 No. 1 hit, “Check Yes or No.” Immediately, as the first verse begins, it’s easy to hear the auto-tuning that was done to Strait’s vocals and has been used on his past few albums.
While on tour in 2010, Strait canceled a show. While onstage, he told the audience it appeared he couldn’t sing that night. One can only assume this influenced his decision to retire from touring.
After the opening number, Strait wasted no time, bringing out music icon, Vince Gill, to sing a duet of “The Love Bug.” Gill sang only necessary harmonies, allowing ample room for Strait to shine.
Jason Aldean joined Strait onstage next to lend his vocals to “Fool Hearted Memory,” one of many songs on this album that haven’t seen the light of day in Strait’s live shows for years.
In a proud moment, Strait brought his son, Bubba, onstage to sing a song they wrote together, “Arkansas Dave.”
Strait continued playing songs from his most recent albums and sprinkling in a few classics from his large body of music, which contains more than 60 No. 1 hits, giving the listener an adrenaline rush, wondering what could be next.
One of the magical moments of the album comes when Martina McBride, who has toured with Strait frequently over the years, joined Strait onstage to sing the Johnny Cash and June Carter classic, “Jackson.” The duo’s chemistry made for an electrifying, enjoyable performance.
As the album begins to come to a close, Strait played a song from his latest studio album called “I’ll Always Remember You,” which he dedicated to all of his fans. The emotion in Strait’s voice can be heard.
Finally, the time had come. The opening notes of the show-closer, “The Cowboy Rides Away,” began to play with an emotional Strait giving one final thank you to all of his fans. Giving hope for future music, he said, “As Arnold Schwarzenegger says, ‘I’ll be back!'”
However, even with that promise, Strait struggles to hold back the tears as he sings the final lines, “The last goodbye’s the hardest one to say. This is where the cowboy rides away.”
With that, George Strait left the stage. The crowd roared with applause, as their country king leaves the stage one last time.
“The Cowboy Rides Away: Live from AT&T Stadium” is available in stores and online retailers now.
For more information, visit www.georgestrait.com.