George Strait’s song “I Get Along With You”, the fifth track of his debut album Strait Country, employs numerous rhetorical and structural strategies in order to convey his intended message, that he lives a simple lifestyle. Elements of style and structure, specifically rhythm, delivery, and repetition, are all present as Strait attempts to connect with a target audience, in this case a young female audience.
To begin, the lyrics of the song should be discussed. The speaker is describing how he “gets along” with this certain woman, and he also describes the type of people who he doesn’t “get along with”. In addition, Strait’s voice is so genuine and gentle that he sounds like an everyday country guy, which allows the listener to assume that he is the speaker in the song. The beginning of each verse begins with Strait singing about who he doesn’t get along with, and ends with him repeating “But on and on, I get along with you”. Some of the things that Strait names that he doesn’t get along with are “people who aren’t kind”, “folks with only money on their mind”, “someone who’s always trying to tell me what to do”, and “people who always tell me that I should change”. It seems that Strait wants someone who allows him to be himself, a simple, polite man who doesn’t want much luxury. Furthermore, the line “but they don’t understand exactly what love boils down to” gives the impression that Strait knows what love is all about, and that strikes a chord with the target audience.
The target audience of this song (and many of Strait’s other songs) is young females. This can be attributed to the lyrics and also the first example of rhetorical style to be discussed, delivery. According to Rhetorical Analysis by Mark Garrett Longaker and Jeffrey Walker, “delivery is the actual performance of a discourse, including not only oral interpretation of the words, but also such things as projecting one’s voice…” (160) In “I Get Along With You”, Strait’s voice can almost be described as sensual. He is very calm and gentle with his words, which when coupled with what he is singing will connect with the young female target audience.
Next, the rhythm of the song is an important and effective characteristic in giving the song meaning. From Rhetorical Analysis, “the (rhythm) of actual song…can give it nearly hypnotic charm and affect an audience’s mood.” (157) In this song, both the rhythm and the instrumentation have an effect on the intended meaning. The song is very simply arranged, with a very basic bassline and drum beat prevalent throughout its entirety. Also, the song contains very few instruments, namely the guitar and steel guitar, and these instruments are very quiet and gentle throughout the song. This is important because just as the lyrics portray Strait as leading a simple life and “getting along” with this simple woman, the simple rhythm and instruments reinforce that idea.
The last rhetorical idea in the song to be discussed is repetition, a component of structure in which an idea is repeated throughout the passage. In this song, more than one idea is repeated. First, the line “On and on, I get along with you” is repeated multiple times at the end of the verses and again at the end of the song. This serves to contrast with the first part of the verse to strengthen the idea that Strait “gets along” with this woman. In each case, Strait begins the verse by naming people he doesn’t get along with, and then ends it by maintaining that he gets along with her. Also repeated throughout the song is the rhythm of the music. The music of each verse is the same, and with the exception of the bridge the music is the same throughout the whole song. By keeping the simple rhythm and instrumentation the same, the theme of simplicity is further backed up.
There is one more important detail of the song that should be examined. While the structure and style of the song have already been talked about, the song’s form hasn’t been mentioned and is an important component. The song is in standard AABA form, which Jocelyn Neal’s Country Music: A Cultural and Stylistic History describes as “consisting of verses and bridges” and “does not have a chorus in them”. “I Get Along With You” only contains one set of verses and one bridge, but it is still AABA. The importance of the “B” section is notable because, again, the simplicity of Strait’s wants are in focus. The lyrics of the bridge are “Well, all it takes to please me, is waking in the morning, feeling you by my side, and all I ever needed is knowing that I’m needed in your life”. These lyrics are paired with a slightly different drum beat and higher pitch instrumentation which draws attention to what he is saying. While the “A” portions of the song describe what he doesn’t want, the “B” section contrasts and focuses on what he does want. The AABA song form is a fairly simple form, which is another reinforcement of the “simple” theme Strait is attempting to convey.
As can be seen in the analysis of “I Get Along With You”, the stylistic and structural components of the song aid the message that Strait is attempting to convey. Strait’s easy delivery, the repetition of certain lyrics, and the song’s AABA form all contribute to the idea that Strait is trying to get across, that he is a simple man who doesn’t lead an extravagant life.
Song “type”: AABA
|0:00||Intro||Guitar, steel guitar||The song begins with a gentle, simple lead in with the guitar and then steel guitar|
|0:09||Verse 1||“I don’t get along…”||The tempo remains the same as it was during the intro, and the guitar and bass do not change|
|0:55||Verse 2||“Well I don’t like…”||Again, the instrumentation remains the same as Strait sings his verse. Verse ends the same way as the first (“On and on, I get along with you”)|
|1:38||Bridge/B||Drum lead in, “Well all it takes to please me…”||Drums are more pronounced and the pitch of the song gets slightly higher|
|2:01||Verse 3||“I may not do…”||Pitch and instrumentation revert back to the way they were in the first two verses. Strait repeats “On and on, I get along with you” at the end of the verse.|
|2:30||Outro||Guitar||Quick outro, guitar lick begins as Strait’s vocals fade away|
Longaker, Mark Garrett, and Jeffrey Walker. Rhetorical Analysis: A Brief Guide for Writers. Boston: Longman, 2011. Print.
Neal, Jocelyn R. Country Music: A Cultural and Stylistic History. New York: Oxford UP, 2013. Print.