On This Day: George Strait Releases Hit Single ‘The Cowboy Rides Away’ In 1985

by Suzanne Halliburton
Photo by Robert Hart/CBS via Getty Images

George Strait, on this day 36 years ago, released the song he eventually used to close his storied career.

It’s “The Cowboy Rides Away.” And serves as the answer to a George Strait trivia question. What’s the last song the country icon performed at his final concert. In the song, Strait mourns a lost love. It was time to leave with his head held high.

It could serve as a perfect ending for a variety of life’s significant moments.

A sampling of the classic George Strait song’s lyrics:

“We’ve been in and out of love and in-between and now we play the final showdown scene.
And as the credits roll, a sad song starts to play, and this is where the cowboy rides away.

And my heart is sinkin’ like the setting sun, setting on the things I wish I’d done.
Oh, the last goodbye’s the hardest one to say. This is where the cowboy rides away. Oh, the last goodbye’s the hardest one to say. This is where the cowboy rides away.”

Here’s the song, with some old cowboy movie scenes sprinkled in. Cause any good George Strait song needs some cowboys. Check back with us on the other side and we’ll give you some more song back story.

George Strait Was On Verge Of Superstardom When He Recorded Song

Let’s set the George Strait scene, circa 1985. Three years before, Strait introduced himself to a wide country audience with his “Strait From the Heart” album. The album featured eventual Strait classics like “Amarillo By Morning” and “Fool Hearted Memory,” the star’s first No. 1 song.

But by 1985, Strait truly was on the verge of superstardom. In September 1984, he released “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind.” The lead track was “The Cowboy Rides Away.” The CMA honored Strait’s work by naming it album of the year.

“The Cowboy Rides Away” wasn’t one of Strait’s record-setting 44 No. 1 songs. It peaked at No. 5.

Yet the song is as near and as dear to Strait’s heart as any of his No. 1 songs. After all, he used it to close out his shows. So when the now 68-year-old George Strait decided to retire from touring, he used the song to punctuate his decision.

“The Cowboy Rides Away” Tour Rocked The Records

The Texan’s final concert tour was called “The Cowboy Rides Away.” The tour, which only included stops in the United States, started in 2013. Over two years, Strait played 48 shows.

The finale was on June 7, 2014, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. It’s the glistening football stadium that the Dallas Cowboys call home. Nearly 105,000 people crowded into the venue.

And the guest list was loaded with stars. If you bought a ticket to say a final good-bye to Strait, you also got to hear Kenny Chesney, Martina McBride, Vince Gill, Faith Hill, Jason Aldean, Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Alan Jackson and Sheryl Crow.

The crowd was the largest ever to see an indoor concert in the United States. And it grossed $18,194,374.

“Oh, the last goodbye’s the hardest one to say. This is where the cowboy rides away.”