“Run” Strait Desire, No Chaser, George Strait

Every now and then, full immersion therapy comes via the radio. A song wells up, wafts out and takes you hostage in a way very few things can. Welling up, you don't even notice it, the melody drifting through your synapses, evoking things you've never considered cognitively -- maybe not subconsciously, either. But then, BLAM! There it is. Whatever it is. Just running down your face or through your veins or beating with your heart. Nuance, gossamer moments you can almost see through -- except there's a brick wall finality, a chill to knowing something that had always alluded you. And so it was that this basic rich male voice somehow started digging into my mind. Didn't notice it exactly, didn't melt or pull over -- just felt a dawning awareness of the solidity of a man, a real man, a grown man who knew what he wanted. Desire and yearning, controlled and yet -- utterly immediately necessary. George Strait has always been an artist you can count on. Smart songs. Well-crafted singles. Songs destined for dance floors and wedding chapels. He is the standard setter for what Nashville is capable of. Maybe that distorts the expectations. Maybe -- because it's all so good -- it perverts his ability to connect with us. "Oh, yes…" we acknowledge as the latest hit single comes on the radio, "another great record from George Strait." Take the brown eyed handsome man for granted without taking anything from him. We know the greatness, why should, why would anything stand out? And there I was on the Florida Turnpike somewhere between Miami and West Palm Beach, listening to this gentle plea to get back. Didn't recognize the voice at first, which probably made me lean in a little closer, listen a little deeper, allow myself to be swept up. It was a yearning request from a broken heart, but it was made with a lot of dignity. It was plain spoken, but regal. It was about holding one's head up -- and if not admitting whatever bad thing had come between the two people in question, there was a nakedness to the want that was stunning. A couple quiet acoustic guitar parts, little puddles of steel pooling like unacknowledged tears around the critical parts with just enough salt to burn the pain into the arrangement. The beat, laying back just a little bit, like a heart that's trying its best to maintain the rhythm -- but not sure it's up to the challenge in this hollow empty state trying to be rectified. And there's the piano, notes rolling back and forth -- not echoing the beloved's movements, so much as the desired travel plan our singer has concocted. Quietly elegant. The thing George Strait has always done best. It makes the girls weak in the knees because he posses the ultimate self-knowledge: he knows the most manly thing one can be is honorable and honest. So with grace, he confesses his need. It is not an obsession. It is not demanding. It is not overbearing. Nor is it about possession. "Run" is a song that is designed to let the girl know he wants her back as quickly and as powerfully as a country song has ever pledged its desire. And that twinge of want -- though no doubt fired by some modicum of lust -- is about seeing a greater need than perhaps had been previously considered. This is not the song of a silver-tongued devil, let me point out. This is a song that could fall from the lips of any man, any man anywhere who realized that he needed a woman back. He could be a doctor or a lineman, a rodeo rider or a computer programmer, an analyst or an accountant or a mechanic. The notion that "there's a plane or a bus out of Dallas, I hope you're on it/ There's a train moving fast down the tracks, I hope you caught it…" is as direct a request as can be made. It's in the leanness of the sentiment where George Strait's silent romantic streak catches fire. Cheap poetry and divinity aren't the weapons he brings to the table -- and Texans have spent years embracing his knotty pine truths, the confessions that build solid lives out of normal places. George Strait is handsome in that classically chiseled, gorgeous man way. One could argue that it's the package that gets this potency across the plate. Except that I was on a burned out two lane, watching not much pass beyond the windows, even less fall beneath the tires. In that void, there was a voice, a melody that was as bittersweet as anything I'd heard, a voice that seemed so solid, so resolved, yet so… well, a little bit beat-up, tired even, but holding its head high. Perhaps not as sleek as what we've come to expect from ole Strait -- and that's what opened the windows of appreciation up wide and full. Valentine's Day's coming. There was a relationship walked away from. This wasn't necessarily the sentiment being sought from the former paramour… more the sad reminder of why the good-bye. Because the notion someone could have this sort of desire speaks volumes about what we should strive for in our most profound intimacies. That they were willing to not go for the grand gesture, the big flex, the check too big to ever cash -- that it would be about loneliness and need and her, well, who wouldn't want that? Indeed, that's been an ingredient in George Strait's ability to bewitch women. He understands what they need. Sometimes it's that perfect smile, a little glimmer, a song to kick up one's ropers, too. But other times it's simple appreciation of what was or is. Where some men fall prey to sizzle, tight dresses, low cut blouses, too much make-up -- and heaven knows, George Strait ain't dead -- it always seemed there was something a little deeper about his appreciation of the fairer sex. Not for him the painted harlot, more the woman in the cotton dress or blue jeans, the hair pulled back in a pony tail, the eyes shining with an appreciation for what life has to offer. It would seem to most women, George Strait is a man who would appreciate them as they are. Who would celebrate their inherent beauty, recognize their passions for the world as it falls around them, respect the emotions they bring to the lives they touch -- and in those moments, a far greater value becomes attached to the object of desire. It's not about what gravity does to a woman's body, the way time steals hair color, adds lines around the eyes and lips. It's not about flash or dazzle, but what's inside. Leveling the playing field, embracing the deeper truths, owning that desire can burn longer and more intensely when drawing on embers that're a slow burn, George Strait shows men how to set women aflame -- and brings the women to their knees from a truer kind of want. And there's also no li'l gal superiority trip at work. It's about needing to be the best option for the woman as well. Taking a breath, he confesses with a hush and the slightest drawl, " cuz I swear out there ain't where you ought to be/ So catch a ride, catch a cab, don't you know I miss you bad/ But don't you walk to me/ baby, run…" The laconic pace of delivery tells the story. George Strait standing tall, offering all he's got: the pledge of need. He's not one for flowery promises, he gives something far more important -- the moment where the rubber meets the road, the willingness to acknowledge that which really matters and the hope that she's going to hear it, hear the completeness of his desire and respond in kind.
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