George Strait – “Drinkin’ Man”

07 May

Songwriters:  George Strait, Bubba Strait, Dean Dillon

Long story short:  This is George Strait’s best single in years, and if it doesn’t at least crack the Top 20, I will be very unhappy.

Country music has a long history of drinking songs, though such have become less common in the antiseptic country radio climate of today.  But when a country drinking song attempts to portray the destructive effects of alcohol addiction, it can be easy for it to come across as high-minded or superficially judgmental. (See Tim McGraw’s “Nothin’ to Die For”) Strait’s “Drinkin’ Man” avoids that problem entirely by giving voice to the affected man himself through vivid first-person narration that shows naked honesty and self-awareness.  The lyric starkly portrays the feelings of guilt the man suffers, the consequences his habit reaps on his family and relationships, and the inner struggle he faces as his earnest desire to kick the habit collides with his deeply ingrained dependency. (“I look into the mirror, bottle in my hand/ I’d like to pour it out, but I just don’t think I can”) Likewise, the refrain “That’s a hell of a lot to ask of a drinkin’ man” captures the truth that no one can fully understand a struggling alcoholic’s plight except the affected individual himself.  And it’s a Dean Dillon collaboration – Who’da guessed?

Over the course of his thirty year career, George Strait has pulled off the near-impossible task of remaining commercially relevant throughout decades of changing tastes and trends, yet doing so with remarkably few concessions in his sound and style.  In the tradition of Strait’s very best work, “Drinkin’ Man” combines a straightforward, detailed, lyric with a tasteful production to create something universal and timeless.

It would be a sad thing indeed if the mainstream country format had deteriorated to the point that a career-best effort from George Strait could be ignored.  But, regardless of whether it finds the audience it deserves, “Drinkin’ Man” is a song that stands as a Jones-worthy classic, and a definite highlight in Strait’s long and storied career.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)


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Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Reviews, Single Reviews


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4 responses to “George Strait – “Drinkin’ Man”

  1. I Made You A Mixtape

    May 7, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    I happen to love country drinking songs- and this one is a classic! Love George Straight’s voice, it has a really calming quality to it…

  2. Occasional Hope

    May 8, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    A genuinely great song.

  3. rowdyred

    June 26, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    I haven’t heard it on the radio yet and it’s been seven weeks since you wrote this review, Ben. I wonder if that’s typical or if in fact the song is being held off the air?

    • Ben Foster

      June 26, 2012 at 5:02 PM

      I don’t think the song the song is being actively held off the air, but it does seem that radio has a limited amount of interest in it, with it being a mature, serious song from an older artist. At the very least, the song has entered the Top 40, and currently sits at #37 on the charts, so that means it has gotten some degree of airplay.


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