Friday, April 26, 2013
In Memorium: George Jones
"If we all could sound like we wanted to, we'd all sound like George Jones."
There were large chunks of seminal country music missing from my formative years. So, my first introduction to George Jones involved early CMT videos of I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair and High-Tech Redneck. They were entertaining (and more than a bit goofy), but I didn't get what all the hype was about. But as I got older, I started digging deeper...
And I realized just how many George Jones songs I loved that I never knew were George Jones songs. The man was probably the most enduring voice in the history of country music.
Across the span of over six decades, he kept making himself relevant time and time again by persistently and insistently being... well, himself. He created classic after classic by delivering something so seemingly simple and yet so excruciatingly elusive to so many.
Whenever he sang Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes, he was singing as much about himself as he was anybody he mentioned in the song. The man gets my vote for inventing (or at least popularizing) the country duet -- a category that still persists. He also gets my vote for recording one of the greatest moonshine songs ever (it's called White Lightnin'; if you didn't know that, why are you reading this?!).
And very few people could say that they had their biggest hit 25 years after they first charted (He Stopped Loving Her Today; seriously, everybody ought to know that one...). Even fewer can say that their vocal stylings garnered the envy of both Waylon Jennings AND Frank Sinatra.
The truth is, there are dozens of songs I could link to here that are quintessential George Jones, including: Tender Years, She Thinks I Still Care and The Race Is On. However, the truth is also that you either already know all of those songs or you need to listen to all of those songs. So instead I'll just link to one -- it's a a song that exemplifies not just what I love about George Jones, but one that's what I love about country music itself. It takes what should be maudlin and churns it around until it gets delivered in a way that is an absolute expression of human existence... 'cause that's what G.J. could do. It's a song that reminds me why I keep pushing on, and I can't give him any greater compliment than that. Thanks, George.
Where Grass Won't Grow -- George Jones