Beyond the Blue Neon
Following one of the most impressive runs of albums in modern country memory, George Strait brought the ‘80s to a close with Beyond the Blue Neon, one of his very best efforts. More than half of the album’s ten songs made the Billboard country charts in 1989, and Strait did it without compromising his artistic integrity. “Angel, Angelina” and “Ace In the Hole” continue his revitalization of the Western Swing tradition, and for added authenticity, he even invited 63-year-old Johnny Gimble, Bob Wills’ fiddle player, to appear on the tracks. “Leavin’s Been Comin’ (For a Long, Long, Time),” “Baby’s Gotten Good at Goodbye,” and “Too Much of Too Little” are exemplary barroom weepers that incorporate Strait’s taste for comic but heartbreaking punchlines, but the award for the album’s single most devastating couplet must go to “Overnight Success”: “You left with him last night and daylight told the rest / And if you planned on hurtin' me, you're an overnight success.” Even as he keeps the dancers dancing and the registers ringing, no one gets to the aching core of country music quite like George Strait.