Country singer George Strait is frequently called a country traditionalist. Does he see himself that way?
—Norm W., Wisconsin
"I got classified early in my career as Mr. Traditional Country," says Strait, a native of Pearsall, Texas, (pop. 7,490). "I didn't think there was a lot to that, especially after I'd done songs like Marina Del Rey and The Chair, and some of these songs that were about as far away from really traditional country as they could be. I guess people have to label you somehow. It doesn't bother me at all. I mean, I love that kind of music. It's just that I don't think all my music is like that." In choosing songs to record, Strait simply aims for quality. "Melody is the first thing I hear in a song," Strait says, "and if I like the melody, I'll pay a little closer attention to the lyric. And then if everything measures up, I'll do it." So far, he's chosen wisely. Strait has logged 36 No. 1 singles on the Billboard charts, right behind Conway Twitty and Merle Haggard on the all-time list.