Does George Strait Belong on Country Music’s Mount Rushmore?
George Strait's legacy is in question as country fans have begun to debate whether or not he deserves to be on country music's Mount Rushmore.
This is a theoretical mountain, of course, as — so far — no sculptor has been commissioned to chisel four faces into the side of a mountain. Who would you select? Few country fans will agree on all four, even if most will agree on one or two.
Dolly Parton and Hank Williams seem likely to hold two of the four spots. At various points it'd be easy to argue for legends including Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Garth Brooks — heck, maybe it still is!
Strait's career path has been a slow and steady rise through five decades, and that complicates things.
Here's Why George Strait Belongs on Country Music's Mount Rushmore:
George Strait has more No. 1 hits than any of the above artists. He's now in his fifth decade of music making, and the records feel as timeless as Strait Country did in 1981.
Beyond that, ask any contemporary male artist who had the greatest influence on him and you'll hear Strait's name first, second or third. He seems to be leaning into that in 2024. In the video above, ToC's Billy Dukes notes how newcomers are sharing stories about Strait like never before, especially those from Texas.
Here's Why George Strait Doesn't Belong on Country Music's Mount Rushmore:
The case against Strait doesn't have much to do with him. There are just four spots, and plenty of people with a subjective case for it. ToC put the question to fans and heard names including Reba McEntire, Willie Nelson, George Jones, Ronnie Milsap, Loretta Lynn, the Oak Ridge Boys, Hank Williams Jr., Jimmie Rodgers and Alan Jackson.
"Not only does George Strait belong on the mountain, I think he’d be second to only Merle Haggard," writes @hfled on YouTube. "The argument would come down to who was third and fourth. Probably Dolly and Hank Sr, but you could make a case for others like George Jones and Loretta Lynn."
Others like @Dirtydeff scored it differently.
"Hank Williams, George Strait, Garth Brooks, and Hank Williams Jr. Not all are my favorites but I think they have had the most record sales/influence etc ..."
Strait is in a unique position because his career isn't over with. In fact, there are signs he could be positioning himself for a big year or few years, maybe even in the way Parton just did with her Rockstar album. Part of why we think an artist is great after he or she dies is because someone was there to curate the legacy (see Elvis Presley vs. someone like Jerry Lee Lewis). Brooks & Dunn are another act that took advantage of this when they assembled the Reboot album in 2019.
Should Strait release a few more albums, earn some critical acclaim and maybe even win a Grammy, and allow people to laud him in a big way, his profile would rise. There isn't a George Strait museum or a bar / honkytonk with his name on it, and there should be.
Even if you don't think he's Mount Rushmore-worthy, you have to agree there's Mount Rushmore potential.
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Gallery Credit: Sterling Whitaker
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Gallery Credit: Billy Dukes