Country Throwback: Toby Keith Nails George Strait ‘Unwound’ Cover at 2009 ACM Awards

by Josh Lanier

Being asked to cover the George Strait – The King of Country music — live and in front of him can’t be an easy task. But Toby Keith nailed it when he performed Strait’s “Unwound” at the 2009 ACM Awards.

The concert honored George Strait as ACM’s artist of the decade. Some of country’s biggest artists turned out to honor Strait and perform some of his biggest hits. Performers at the show included Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton, and Keith Urban among others.

George Strait is undoubtedly one of the greatest country musicians of all time. He has the most No. 1 country songs of all time with 61. “Unwound” jump-started his career as it was his first top-ten song.

The song is the lead single from his major-label debut album Strait Country. The song, about a man who realizes a woman he believed was “wrapped around his finger” was going to leave him, peaked at No. 6 on the country chart. And it helped propel the album to success. Strait Country was certified platinum and peaked at the number 26 spot on the Top Country Albums chart.

“Unwound” also put Strait on the path to stardom. But the songwriters didn’t originally intend for Strait to record it. Writers Dean Dillion and Frank Dycus wrote the song for Johnny Paycheck. However, Paycheck was in jail at the time and couldn’t record the song. Strait’s producer contacted the writers to see if they had any songs that Strait could record.

Aside from making Strait a star, it also created a partnership between him and Dillon. Subsequently, Dillon would go on to write nearly 70 songs for Strait. Those include “West Texas Town,” “Nobody in His Right Mind Would’ve Left Her,” and “Ocean Front Property.” Dillon has also written several songs for Toby Keith as well.