George Strait “I Saw God Today” Song Analysis – Elissa Killebrew
“I Saw God Today” by George Strait debuted in 2008 on his 37th album, Troubadour. This song entered the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart at #19, the highest debut in Strait’s career, and was one of the fastest rising singles in his career. Strait has been characterized as humble and conservative, which is often expressed through his music. “I Saw God Today” speaks to the religious country fans but is also suspected to have a more intimate meaning to Strait’s personal life.
Although Strait is very quiet about his political views, he’s revealed his religious beliefs through reflecting on his upbringing in previous interviews. Strait was born on May 18, 1952 in Poteet, Texas. His father raised him and his brother as a single parent after his mother left the family, taking her daughter but leaving the sons behind. He grew up as a Baptist with a strong influence of the Christian faith. Strait dropped out of college and eloped with his high school sweetheart in Mexico but had a ceremony in a church in Texas. Together they had two kids, George Jr. and Jenifer. Jenifer died tragically at the age of 13 in a car accident. Strait hasn’t expressed much to the media about the incident, but there have been a few recorded songs that are suspected to be about his daughter.
“I’m a religious person. I honestly believe we will see each other in heaven someday,” Strait revealed in an interview with USA Today.
Strait fell into country music while he was enlisted in the Army. After returning home, he completed his studies at Texas State University in San Marcos, where he also formed his own country band, Ace in the Hole. In 1979, after failing in Nashville, he became friends with Erv Woolsey who had connections to MCA Records. In 1980, MCA Records signed Strait and began his career in country music. Throughout the 80s, his albums consistently went platinum or gold, but his 1996 album, Blue Clear Sky, made history in his career by debuting number one on the country charts and number seven on the pop charts. Ever since, Strait has made chart-topping albums. Although he has retired from touring, he has yet to slow down with his music and his success. He just released a brand new album, Cold Beer Conversation, this past September.
Strait’s style is known to stay close to traditional country; most of his songs draw from the Honky Tonk and Western types of country. His neo-traditional sound, similar to Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson, has helped revitalize the genre throughout his career. Strait began as a regional performer, taking him awhile to gain a steady fan base. He doesn’t write his own music but knows how to pick the best songwriters. Relevancy helped build a target audience. He sings about life experiences that anyone can relate to.
The song “I Saw God Today” written by Rodney Clawson, Monty Criswell, and Wade Kirby debuted in 2008. Although not Honky Tonk or Western country, this song is a more subdued George Strait style with the guitar and piano guiding the slow, light-hearted sound of the lyrics. The song is about a man taking a break from being by his wife’s side in the hospital and walking outside only to open his eyes to all the miracles of God’s creations. These miracles are expressed through a flower growing between the sidewalk, a pregnant couple holding hands, the beauty of the sunset, and childbirth.
The song speaks to the Christian audience and makes assumptions about what is considered a “good Christian”.
“I’ve been to church, I’ve read the book. I know He’s here but I don’t look near as often as I should…”
The assumption here is that he may be doing the necessary actions to remain a Christian: going to church and reading the Bible. However, he doesn’t look to God as often as he should – or as often as a “good Christian” should. This may relate to the internal conflict most Christians face throughout their lives when certain events may cause them to briefly become disconnected from God. This supports the idea that the song is about a religious man reconnecting with his faith in God by opening his eyes to the everyday miracles most people take for granted. The song later reveals that this character’s wife is giving birth to a baby girl – the most precious and common miracle of all.
According to theboot.com, Strait commented on his song, “’I Saw God Today’ is such a well-written song…it means a lot. Sometimes we take a lot of things for granted, especially anybody that’s had a child. When they first see that child – if they’re in the delivery room or not – it truly is a miracle. And you just realize that all of these things that God has given us…sometimes you just take for granted. But if you just step back and take a look around, you’ll see what beauty we have around us in the things that He has created for us.”
Along with Strait’s religious values, he is first and foremost a family man; maybe this is why he avoids media and stays out of the spotlight. Throughout the song, the listener knows that the character’s wife is in the hospital, but the ending of the song reveals why.
“Got my face pressed up against the nursery glass / My brand new baby girl / She’s a miracle.”
The artist is speaking about the miracle of his newborn child. It is speculated that Strait chose this song because it resonates with him and his late daughter, Jenifer. She was the first born, so maybe Strait went through a similar experience and reflection of his own religious beliefs when Jenifer was born in 1972.
“I Saw God Today” can also be tied to Strait’s 2005 hit “You’ll Be There”, which is also speculated to be about Jenifer. This song talks about the gift of nature and the idea that everyone has a purpose.
“From the beginning of creation, I think our maker had a plan / For us to leave these shores and sail beyond the sand.”
Similarly to “I Saw God Today”, Strait alludes to his religious beliefs and refers to God as the world’s “maker.” This song also talks about Strait’s perception of heaven and that will be his ultimate home. He mentions someone watching him from heaven; another reason to believe this song is about his daughter. Although Strait is traditionally quiet about his beliefs, one can get a good sense of who he is through his song choice.
Country music has historically and presently been open about religion. Many people believe it to be a Christian genre because of references to “the book”, a higher power, and prayer. Almost every country singer has a song about religion on one of their albums but not many become hits. Strait’s fans have proved time and again that they are loyal to his music with his 60 number one hits throughout his three-decade long career. “I Saw God Today” even won the artist is very first Grammy. As Strait continues to be equally as loyal to his fan base by staying true to the neo-traditionalist type of music and the expression of his religious belief, he will continue to dominate the charts and reign as the King of Country.
In Stephen Thomas Erlewine’s review of Strait’s Troubadour album, Erlewine states, “Strait is the troubadour of the title, a musician who bears the scars of the road and is a richer singer for it.”
|0:14||Verse 1||“Just walked down the street…”||Assuming significant other is in the hospital; metaphorical flower reminding him of miracles|
|0:39||Verse 2||“The flashing lights…”||Confirms the hospital; significance of room 508; “I saw God today”|
|0:55||Chorus||“I’ve been to church…”||Mentions having read “the book” (Bible); he does what is expected to be a good Christian “but I don’t look near as often as I should” implies he struggles|
|1:28||Verse 3||“Saw a couple walking by…”||Mentions seeing a pregnant couple; talks about the miracle of nature “lost in that sunset”|
|1:57||Chorus||“I’ve been to church…”||Mentions having read “the book” (Bible); he does what is expected to be a good Christian “but I don’t look near as often as I should” implies he struggles|
|2:37||Verse 4||“Got my face pushed up against the nursery glass…”||Scene in the hospital; watching his own miracle of his newborn baby girl; last words “I saw God today” are empowering|
|3:02||Outro||Guitar, Piano||Quick ending to the song leaves the listener wanting more|
McCafferty, Dennis. “Strait Talk.” USA Weekend, n.d. Web. <http://22.214.171.124/07_issues/070121/070121strait.html>.
Strait’s USA Today interview
“Story Behind the Song: ‘I Saw God Today,’ George Strait.” The Boot. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://theboot.com/story-behind-the-song-i-saw-god-today-george-strait/>.
Strait’s boot.com quote
“George Strait.” – You’ll Be There Lyrics. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.metrolyrics.com/youll-be-there-lyrics-george-strait.html>.
“You’ll Be There” lyrics
“George Strait Bio | George Strait Career.” CMT Artists. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.cmt.com/artists/george-strait/biography/>.
Tunis, Walter. “Troubadour.” Troubadour. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://straitfever.homestead.com/Troubadour.html>.
Troubadour album review
Erlewine, Steven Thomas. “AllMusic Review.” AllMusic.com. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.allmusic.com/album/troubadour-mw0000495112>.
Troubadour album review
Keefe, Jonathan. “George Strait Troubadour | Album Review | Slant Magazine.” Slant Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.slantmagazine.com/music/review/george-strait-troubadour>.
Troubadour album review
“George Strait.” – I Saw God Today Lyrics. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.metrolyrics.com/i-saw-god-today-lyrics-george-strait.html>.
“I Saw God Today” lyrics
“I Saw God Today by George Strait Songfacts.” I Saw God Today by George Strait Songfacts. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=10489>.
“I Saw God Today” review