STORY BEHIND THE SONG: "COWBOYS LIKE US"
When Nashville songwriters Anthony Smith and Bob DiPiero found out a secret about George Strait, they turned it into a hit song - for George Strait!
"Tony Brown, George's producer, called me right before George was going to cut the songs for his Honkytonkville album," remembers Anthony, who had previously written "Run" with Tony Lane for George. "He liked that 'Run' had a contemporary flair to the music, but had traditional country lyrics."
So George asked his producer to ask Anthony if he'd write a song "about something that George did in real life that most of his fans were unaware of - that he was a motorcycle rider who takes a trip once a year on his bike with his bike-ridin' buddies down into Mexico. George wanted to know if I could put that into a song, and I told Tony I'd do my best."
Anthony, who had a hit as a singer with "If That Ain't Country" and also wrote Montgomery Gentry's "Didn't I" and cowrote Trace Adkins' "I'm Tryin'," and quickly came up with a melody, a title and the opening lines I take off time to time/With those crazy friends of mine/Head out on steel horses/With wheels and we ride. "Right after that I was writing with Bob DiPiero, so I told him what Tony told me about George and the song he wanted."
Bob was surprised, and very pleased, about having so much to start with. "To be told that George and a couple of friends ride their Harleys into Mexico on a 'guys' trip, ' " notes Bob, "and that they go where nobody knows George Strait, hang out, tell stories and do what friends do, is a lot of information for a songwriter. So Anthony and I treated the whole trip thing like cowboys riding into Mexico. But instead of horses, they were on steel wheels."
"We hopped on it and knocked it out that day," recalls Anthony. "We came up with lines like just we amigos and it was a really fun session. Bob's great to write with. He makes you feel like you're at your best.
"Then we did a guitar vocal for the demo and got it to Tony - and he put it on hold for Honkytonkville."
Bob, who also co-wrote George's "Blue Clear Sky" and Montgomery Gentry's "If You Ever Stop Loving Me," nods. "It felt like something special was happening the day we wrote," he adds. "We really captured a moment - and George did an awesome job of singing it. He really is the Frank Sinatra of country music."
Anthony grins. "Bob and I are both very proud of the song."
If you want to read the lyrics of "Cowboys Like Us", pick up your copy of Country Weekly on newsstands now!