I know we coffee-drinking blue-state elitists are not supposed to care about George Jones (about Teachout’s uncharacteristic cliched falsehood, I note only that the kind of Nashville country urban music aficionados disdain generally has more in common musically with Train than George Jones), but nonetheless some additional discussions:
- Kathy Geier has an excellent YouTube-rich roundup that’s a good complement to Erik’s.
- Texas Monthly has put Nick Tosches’s classic Jones profile — a slightly different version of which appeared in the Nick Tosches Reader, after having been spiked by the New Yorker in one of their more dubious judgements — online.
- Since it isn’t mentioned even in the long Pareles obit, I think it should be acknowledged that Jones wasn’t just self- but other-destructive. Like a very different fellow musical genius born two years later, Jones was a serial domestic abuser. As Robert Christgau wrote in fine Voice essay — reprinted in Grown Up All Wrong but apparently not online — “I defy anyone reading Allen’s book to keep track of how many women get hit — after a while the brutality has a numbing effect. Robert Plant is Alan Alda by comparison. Frank Sinatra is Elie Wiesel.”
- As was discussed in Erik’s thread, Jones lacks the truly comprehensive overview an artist of his immense stature deserves. Part of this is the hits-plus-filler Nashville albums ethos that of the modern country giants only Willie Nelson (not on Jones’s planet as a singer, although like his friend Dylan at his best he does a great deal with what he wasn’t given) and Rubin-era Cash escaped. But all of his contemporaneous titans — Nelson, Cash, and Haggard — have exceptional multi-disc best-ofs, as do his forerunners Lefty and Hank. My go-to has been a pretty good Time-Life box I got a really cheap used copy of. The sound is very good and while there’s a little less honky-tonk and a little more late career than one might prefer, even the latter has its charms; seeing how he can make even the corniest assembly-line Nashville product listenable is a tribute to his greatness in its own way. Alas, it seems out of print and needless to say the used copies have dried up. So the Columbia best-of is probably the best available collection for now.
- I conclude with this single paragraph from the Pareles obit: “In 1966, Mr. Jones tried to start a country theme park in Vidor, the East Texas suburb where he lived. Called the George Jones Rhythm Ranch, it was the first of many shaky business ventures. Mr. Jones gave only one performance. After singing, he disappeared for a month, rambling across Texas. His drinking had gotten worse. At one point his wife hid the keys to all his cars, so he drove his lawn mower into Beaumont to a liquor store — an incident he would later commemorate in a song and in music videos. They were divorced not long afterward.”