How Did Tom Hanks Inspire George Strait’s ‘Blue Clear Sky’?
George Strait‘s No. 1 hit “Blue Clear Sky” was released in March of 1996 as the first single and title track from Strait’s triple-platinum album. Although the song and record Blue Clear Sky are now synonymous with Strait, they were inspired by one particular movie star: Tom Hanks.
The song, written by Bob DiPiero, John Jarrard and Mark D. Sanders, began percolating in DiPiero’s head while he was in a movie theatre, watching Hanks’ hit film Forrest Gump.
“In the movie, Forrest talks about ‘life is like a box of chocolates.’ And also, he was talking about his girlfriend, Jenny, and how she would come and go out of his life,” says DiPiero. “At one point, he says, ‘And out of the blue clear sky, Jenny came back.’ And I was listening, thinking, ‘Hey! It’s ‘clear blue sky,’ it’s not ‘blue clear sky!’ Just that little turn of phrase stuck in my head.”
The very next day, the songwriter met up with Jarrard and Sanders, and he told them his idea of using the phrase “blue clear sky.”
“And they said, ‘Well, that’s backwards!'” DiPiero says with a laugh. “I said, ‘I know that’ … and we wrote it anyway!”
Lo and behold, a month after the songwriters cut a demo, producer Tony Brown called and said he was in the studio with Strait. They wanted to cut the song, but the King of Country had a question.
“I’m from Texas … and Texas is clear blue sky,” DiPiero recalls Strait saying. “You think it ought to be ‘clear blue sky?’”
After the initial shock of having Strait on the phone, DiPiero recalls, “I told him the song is all about just giving up on love, and then out of nowhere, out of the blue clear sky, comes the love of your life. And George was kind of quiet for a while, and then he says, ‘Well, you think there’s many Gumpsters out there?’ [Laughs] And I said, ‘Well, yeah, I do!’ And he says, ‘Well, all right then, we’ll be Gumpsters!'”
And so, Gumpsters they became. Just like the movie, which grossed over $677 million during its theatrical run, Strait’s album Blue Clear Sky was also a massive hit with fans. The record became CMA and ACM Album of the Year, and the song hit No. 1 on the country charts.
Learn more fun facts about ’90s country music by clicking through Taste of Country‘s You Think You Know Country? photo gallery above. You’ll discover an interesting tidbit about Garth Brooks‘ “The Dance,” learn which female country star passed on Deana Carter‘s “Strawberry Wine” and find out who was in Little Big Town before forming a massively successful trio.