The year 2016 went down in history as George Strait called out country radio in his song “Kicked Outta Country.” The song appeared on Strait Out of the Box Part 2 box set, which chronicles Strait’s career from 1996 to 2016 along with two brand new songs.
The King of Country Jabs at Country Radio
Written by George Strait with fellow country artist Jamey Johnson, “Kicked Outta Country” was Strait and Johnson’s way to express their frustrations with being kicked off country radio. Strait had lots of success in the past, but more recently, he hasn’t been getting a lot of love from country radio. Johnson, who is critically acclaimed but receives very little airplay, felt the same way too.
“It’s just something that happens at some point in everyone’s career,” Strait said. “It doesn’t mean I have to like it, but ’cause I always expected it was gonna come at some point. It’s a little hard to take after all these years to release something at radio, and it doesn’t get played anymore because, for so long, I just kinda got used to hearing things on the radio. Anyway, the song’s kinda about that.”
Throughout the song, Strait sang about when country radio stopped playing Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson without even a word. But rest assured that they would continue writing what they knew, sing what they wrote, and they would not care what anyone thought.
“I just got the news today, the record I sent them they threw it away. It don’t fit the format, don’t make the list. They said I’m too old, won’t even be missed,” the song goes. Strait ended the song with the powerful lines: “It don’t really matter, because I ain’t gonna change. Cause getting kicked outta country, won’t hurt a thing.”
George Strait’s Done With Playing It Safe
George Strait isn’t usually this outspoken in his music or interviews. However, his album Cold Beer Conversation in 2015 got little to no love on country radio – it must have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. His two singles from that album only peaked at 33 and 46 on the Country Airplay charts, which is a little odd for a man who has sixty No. 1 songs.
Strait revealed how he and Johnson ended up teaming up to write “Kicked Outta Country.” Johnson was about to pitch the King of Country some songs to which Strait responded, “Sure, I’d love to hear them, but they probably won’t play them on the radio anymore.”
Johnson went on telling Strait how “they kicked me out of country too.” And the rest was history! The two songwriters weren’t in the same room, let alone the same state when they wrote the song. The duo did it by texting ideas back and forth until they ended up writing the song.
“We wrote it all with texting,” Strait explained. “We wrote the whole song, texting. Well, I mean people do it all the time now. It’s so common. I see Bubba Skyping and writing with somebody somewhere, and it’s just so easy to do. Yeah, I just started scribbling stuff down, and I’d send it, he’d send something back, I’d send something back, and that’s the way it happened.”
You can watch George Strait’s performance of “Kicked Outta Country” in the video below.