“I would give anything if I could sing like George Jones. If we could all sound like we wanted to, we’d sound like George Jones.” -Waylon Jennings
Growing up in flyover country in the 70’s George Jones represented what I hated so much about country music, particularly with his wife at the time, Tammy Wynette. Both had huge careers as solo artists, and then just got bigger when they started performing together. It was about this time Nashville was figuring out how to package and (over) produce hits to start to work their way more into mainstream America. Add all those factors together and it was slick and smooth and nothing that appealed to a teenager.
Of course, that was also before Twitter and camera phones and Betty Ford. It turns out George had his demons just like everyone else, and unfortunately for him, the wherewithal to follow those demons to the end of the earth. It wasn’t long before he became No-Show Jones and moved on to his 4th wife, who eventually dragged him out of the hole. I matured in the meantime and came to understand the singing and songwriting talent Jones had when he could focus. After he got sober he continued to write and perform and become an inspiration to a generation of artists that produce a huge amount of the music I so love today. So George, tonight I’ll raise a glass of pop in your honor and be thankful for your talent.
George Jones left the world last Friday. If you need a soundtrack for his farewell, the man himself provided some of the best weeping, tears in your beer songs that you will ever hear. ‘She Thinks I Still Care,’ ‘The Grand Tour,’ ‘Walk Through This World With Me,’ ‘Tender Years’ and ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today’ are just a handful of his countless hits (seriously, countless). Though he didn’t catch on with the younger punk rock crowd as much as the ‘outlaw’ country singers like Willie, Waylon, and Johnny, George Jones would have been every bit as deserving of that designation. He did enough booze, coke, divorces, and pills to kill three men (or half of a Keith Richards). But he also had that voice, a voice both ethereal and emotive that managed to straddle the line between Ray Charles and Hank Williams. Jones, whatever his failings may have been, used that angelic gift prolifically for more than 50 years. While he may not have won the title greatest country singer, he may just have been the best. Here are some of my favorites.
About the author: Specializes in Dead, Drunk, and Nakedness..... Former College Radio DJ and Current Craft Beer Nerd