The short version: George Strait’s “Every Little Honky Tonk Bar” feels like a familiar friend to his catalog, for better or worse.
- Writers: George Strait, Bubba Strait and Dean Dillon
- Rating: 6/10
The long version: It may be hard to know exactly what George Strait is up to these days, but at the very least, you know you’ll be listening when he releases something.
In fact, as a fan, I got so excited at the thought of new music that I reviewed “God and Country Music” thinking it was his next single. Instead, Strait and his team have released “Every Little Honky Tonk Bar” to radio, and while it’s not likely to do much on the airplay charts, at least it’s another fairly good release from the king.
Truthfully, “Every Little Honky Tonk Bar” feels a little too familiar to Strait’s catalog, and he’s done this type of song better before. With that said, it’s still lightweight enough to be enjoyable for what is and essentially evade critical discussion.
The instrumental and production mix is fairly standard for a Strait track. Fiddle, steel guitar, organ and rollicking guitar kick in to provide a mood fit for, well … a honky tonk. For the looser vibe the song is stretching for, the mix has enough energy and brightness to compliment it well, especially when the jaunty piano kicks in starting at the second verse.
Lyrically, this song isn’t reaching for anything profound. At its core, “Every Little Honky Tonk Bar” is an ode to bars and the characters who inhabit them. The song connects the elements of a bar such as the jukebox playing Hank Williams, the character drinking troubles away and other elements as small parts in the well-oiled machine of a standard night at this establishment, or, in a larger sense, country music itself. It’s not the most unique angle to tackle this theme from, but that’s the point. The examples used feel familiar and timeless when it comes to crafting drinking songs of any stripe.
Halfway through listening to “Every Little Honky Tonk Bar,” you realize it’s stupid to conduct any critical analysis of the song, and really, the song’s biggest flaw lies in a lackluster melody. Strait’s delivery feels overstuffed on the verses as if they’re cramming whatever they can into the song, and the monotone delivery certainly isn’t helped by its lack of a punchy melody.
While I had much more to say about “God and Country Music” than I did this song, “Every Little Honky Tonk Bar” is ultimately one of those songs you’ll like if you like Strait’s catalog. You might also like it if you enjoyed Josh Turner’s “Why Don’t We Just Dance,” as I’m certain some of those chord progressions are the exact same as that song. At any rate, with two songs released, Honky Tonk Time Machine is looking fairly solid thus far.
(Strong 6 to a light 7/10)