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Tonight is the first night of George Strait’s two-year Cowboy Rides Away Tour, which he announced last fall during a press conference at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.

The show takes place at the United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. As with all shows on the tour, Martina McBride is the opening act. The next night (Saturday, Jan. 19), George and Martina will be in Oklahoma City. The tour runs through June of this year and then picks back up in 2014 (see all tour dates).

So what can fans expect from these shows? As George told Radio.com, there are a few songs he’s definitely looking forward to playing.

“‘Troubadour’ for sure,” he said. “And ‘I’ll Always Remember You.’ That’s gonna be one that’s probably going to have the most meaning during these shows. And I kinda wrote it so the fans would know how I really felt. That’s gonna be a tough one.”

He also said he’s “probably going to reach back and pull some of that old stuff out” that he and the band haven’t done in a long time, “just for good memory’s sake.” He’s got plenty to work with, then, as his large, impressive catalog reaches back more than 30 years and includes such early gems as “The Chill of an Early Fall,” “Ocean Front Property,” “Unwound,” “Amarillo by Morning,” and of course, “The Cowboy Rides Away.”

As George noted during last fall’s press conference, this may be his final major concert tour, but he’s not ruling out occasional live gigs–and he’s certainly going to keep recording. “I’m still going to make records, I’m going to write,” he promised at the time.

And while the country music landscape has obviously changed tremendously during the time that George has been on the scene, he appears unfazed.

“It’s definitely a little different now,” George said to Radio.com, regarding the current world of country music. “And I don’t mean that in a bad way, because everybody’s just trying to make it in this business, and so, more power to them. But hopefully I’ll still have a place somewhere. And I”m gonna keep believing that, because I want to keep making records.”

Watch: Artists pay tribute to George Strait

For George, “the key” to keeping his career this strong all these years is all about “finding the right songs.” And not just any songs, but “good songs that you think will fit you. That’s what I’ve done all these years, is just try to find the best songs that I felt like I could sing that fit me, my personality and my beliefs.”

– Kurt Wolff, Radio.com


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