George Strait has more than 50 No. 1 hits, but he didn’t write many of them. That honor goes instead to country songwriter Dean Dillon.
Dillon wrote most of Strait’s big hits, including “Unwound,” “The Chair,” Marina Del Ray” and “Easy Come, Easy Go.”
Dillon has also penned hits for George Jones, Kenny Chesney, Brooks & Dunn, Toby Keith, Blake Shelton, LeeAnn Womack, Randy Rogers and many more.
He also wrote “Tennessee Whiskey,” which was originally pitched to Strait and would go on to be performed by David Allan Coe and Chris Stapleton.
A documentary about his life, “Tennessee Whiskey: The Dean Dillon Story” premieres in May.
In an interview with Wide Open Country this week, Dillon expands upon his relationship with Strait and what led him to start their writing relationship. But he also had a lot to say about the state of today’s current crop of country singers.
On his writing relationship with King George:
“We had this unwritten rule that everything I wrote that I believed in, I would give to him...And I knew he’d sing it exactly how I gave it to him. I didn’t want anybody less than the best singing these songs, and to me George Strait is still the best country singer out there. I always loved the element of just me and a guitar sitting down, singing songs. That’s what made me a living and what I’d do with George.”
Once Strait started writing his own songs again in 2009 for “Twang,” Dillon told Wide Open Country Strait was a fantastic songwriter in his own right, commenting on their co-writing relationship:
“When he first started his songs weren’t great, and he’d tell you that, but if he hadn’t had the career he has as a singer, he’d be a chart-topping songwriter. Oh yeah, he’d be there.”
As for today’s country singers, Dillon isn’t too happy with the subject matter in many of the songs, citing a bland homogeneity.
“Every song is about the same damn thing. Daisy Dukes, trucks, beer, lake banks, time, after time, after time, after time. The bro country thing started 12 years ago, and 12 years later, they’re still singing the same things. Do they not evolve? Get older? Get married? Have kids? Get jobs and shift in society? There’s no movement in it.”
Dillon goes on to say that he does think there’s a great creative mindset in Nashville, one that can enable people who have never known each other to sit down and write a hit song in a few hours.
Read the full interview here.