George Strait Sings Debut Single, “Unwound,” On A Boat In The Early 80s
via When The Cowboy Sings: History Of Country Music / Youtube
Before he was crowned the “King of Country Music”, George Strait was just a baby-faced country singer playing his guitar on top of a swaying boat.
A video of the country legend singing his breakthrough single “Unwound” has resurfaced, dragging country fans back in time to witness an unblemished and strapping George, strumming his acoustic guitar for a bit before going “Give me a bottle of your very best…“
People would only know sometime later that the then-29-year-old Strait nearly gave up on pursuing music before landing a hit with “Unwound”. He and his band recorded and released songs before but they all failed to even gain notice.
The song wasn’t even meant for the King at the time, but history had other plans. The yet-unknown country singer should be damn good seeing how easy it was for him to perform his major debut single nonchalantly in such circumstances. Take a look:
Almost gave up
In the mid-70s, Strait wasn’t lady luck’s favorite yet. He thought he had a promising career, seeing how he and his band were well-received when he was still starting.
Strait joined a band called Stoney Ridge during his college days. He changed the name to Ace in the Hole Band after he became the lead singer and they went to perform in bars and honky-tonks around south and central Texas.
They had some regional following and had even opened for bigger acts. They soon got the big ticket: a recording deal with Houston-based D label. Strait himself wrote the songs, but they never achieve widespread recognition.
Years went on and Strait and his band achieved little to nothing. After several failed trips to Nashville will every record label turning them down, a downhearted Strait decided to just call it quits and even accepted a job offer designing cattle pens.
His wife, Norma, was able to convince him to try for one more year. Finally, not long afterward, a recording deal finally landed on his lap. It was for only one song, though, but a record deal is a record deal. George only needed to prove his grit.
Almost didn’t get the song
Major label MCA offered Strait the one-song deal on January 1981. If the single was successful in sales and radio play, they would offer the promising country singer an album deal.
The song Strait had to record was called “Unwound”, penned by an unknown songwriter named Dean Dillon with his partner Frank Dycus.
Strait recorded the song, MCA released the debut single, and country music history was made.
And this nearly did not become a reality, had the country music singer Dillon had in mind not wind up in jail.
Johnny Paycheck, who was a known champion of the outlaw country movement, had a hit in his name called “Take This Job and Shove It”. True to his outlaw advocacy, he had quite a few runs-in with the law. He wasn’t there to record “Unwound”.
George did his magic with “Unwound” and clinched an album deal. He recorded and released Strait Country to resounding success, and country music was never the same. Strait did not forget his old band, and he brought them as his touring band ever since, letting them bathe in success.
Dillon would write tons of successful songs in the coming decades, developing a long-term and successful partnership with Strait. The songwriter was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2020.
In his video message regarding his Hall of Fame induction, the songwriter calls Strait “the man who changed my life forever.”
— Buckles and Bulls Brands Inc. (@BucklesandBulls) August 12, 2020
And this inspiring success story came about thanks to that one song about a man drinking away his woes about a woman.