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Tony Brown and George Strait. A Lifetime Of Hits

Ask anybody in the music business and they will answer without thinking, "Hands down, George Strait is the coolest guy in country music." Record producer Tony Brown gave an example of the Cowboy's cool.

"I was at the Kentucky Derby waiting to meet up with George and his wife, Norma," Tony said. "The room was filled with big-time money businessmen, as well as actors and actresses from Hollywood, famous singers from all genres. In the door walked George and Norma, and every head turned and stared -- everyone in the room. Nobody in that room attracted the attention like George Strait." Tony laughed, "He's got it." Tony has produced all of Strait's records since 1992, and they have a long string of nothing but success.

"As an artist, he's not an overachiever. He wants to be relevant, wants his records on the radio. Some artists know enough to be dangerous. He's not like that. George likes to keep up with what's happening, though. I found a really cool article about his last single making the highest chart debut of his career and I sent it to him. He called me back saying, "Thanks, I never get to see this stuff."

"George is probably the biggest nonstar star there is. What I mean is George Strait is so down-to-earth and normal. I've been around him a whole lot over the past 15 or so years and he is a genuine, real good guy. Of all the acts I've produced over the years - Vince, Reba, Wynonna, Trisha, Marty - George is hands down the easiest and most relaxed in the studio. There's no reinventing himself like some country and lots of pop stars do."

"George goes in the studio, uses the same rhythm section - like a comfort zone. He always starts on Monday and finishes on Thursday, and during that week, session players fill out his band. Once the recording begins, the band becomes George's unit. I remember once the regular piano player was booked elsewhere and couldn't make it. George made the decision to do the session later when the regular piano player could be there. There's no getting 'who is available'. He wants the same guys he's used to. He's the greatest guy on earth to work with."

"George and I agree on nine out of every 10 songs. I find songs, FedEx them to George, George finds songs, FedEx's them to me. George found "You'll Be There". At first I couldn't figure how we would record it. But George does what he does best - he listened and he heard what he could do with the deep lyrics and a spiritual overtone. It became Strait's biggest production ever and he made it his song. That's what's exciting about him, when he takes an 'out-of-the-Strait-box song' and makes it his."

"'Somewhere Down In Texas' took longer than the rest to record. Reason being George bought a recording rig so he could do his vocals at the ranch. He sings each song several times and then I choose the best take."

"You know, he can turn every head in a room. Four years ago he invited Anastasia and me to attend the Kentucky Derby with him and Norma. We went into the VIP area, and when George walked in the room - you knew an icon had entered. Every head in that room - Peyton Manning, Bo Derek, Cameron Diaz, worldwide businessmen - turned toward George Strait, a real cowboy."

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