George Strait and Martina McBride

The Cowboy Rides Away Tour

Five years ago, on Jan. 18, 2013, King George Strait,  launched what was supposed to be his farewell tour, The Cowboy Rides Away Tour. The trek followed the country icon’s September 2012 announcement that he would be retiring from touring, but not from making music. Strait’s final concerts sold out in minutes at almost every venue.

The show took place in Arlington, where he played for over 100,000 fans. It featured an all-star cast of country singers including Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, Miranda Lambert, Faith Hill, among others, and it proves that even with his last major tour stop, Strait is still the “King of Country Music.”

Highlight duets on the tour featured his versions of “Jackson” with Country Queen Martina McBride and “Golden Ring,” where they paid homage to such legends as Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, and George Jones and Tammy Wynette respectively.

Johnny Cash and June Carter, “Jackson”

Jackson exudes an energy and presence not seen before in a Johnny Cash tribute. Jackson has perfectly captured the “sharp like a razor, steady like a train” sound and essence that is Johnny Cash. The song also brings a greater focus to the wonderful music of June Carter, giving the band the versatility and unique touch to perform all of the greatest Johnny & June duets and Carter Family hits.

Billy Edd Wheeler wrote “Jackson.” It’s about a couple whose romantic spark was losing its flame. More an editorial contributor than co-writer on it, Leiber suggested placing the then-buried line:

“We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout”

This line created one of the most famous opening lines in country music history. Although first recorded by the Kingston Trio in 1963, the best-known version of the song came four years later from yet-to-be-married singers Johnny Cash and June Carter. “Jackson” became a hit and a Grammy winner for the dynamic duo. Such blockbuster films as Walk the Line and The Help featured the song.

Johnny Cash and June Carter (photo from Rolling Stone)

Golden Ring by George Jones & Tammy Wynette

While their marriage was dissolved after five years, the union between the two icons gave Country music some of the most beloved duets, including “We’re Gonna Hold On,” “Near You,” and the iconic “Golden Ring.” Two years after their divorce in 1974, Jones and Wynette reunited for a performance of “Golden Ring.”

“Golden Ring” is a story song in which the main character isn’t a person, but an object: a golden ring. The ring’s journey starts and ends in a pawn shop. First, a couple young and in love purchased the ring. Then sold back to the same pawn shop when that couple’s love has become “dead and gone.”

George Jones and Tammy Wynette (photo from alancackett.com)

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