The great George Jones has passed. Arguably, the best singer in country music history, Jones’ collection of amazing songs is almost unmatched. Its true he did everything he could to waste his prodigious talent with massive drinking. There were long fallow periods by the 1970s. It took over a year to record “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” partly because Jones thought the song too maudlin and so resisted singing it, but mostly because he was too drunk all the time to work. I was living in Nashville in 1999 when a drunk Jones got into a car accident. This was the story of the year in that town, partially because George Jones still held such sway there and partially because of the sadness that he was still engaging in that kind of behavior.
Still, we shouldn’t focus too much on his personal life. Instead, we should remember his amazing voice and wonderful songs. Here are my 5 favorites:
5. “Once You’ve Had the Best.” At Farm Aid!
4. “The Right Left Hand.” Theoretically, this is the relationship he’s not going to screw up.
3. “Golden Ring” with his then wife Tammy Wynette. The life cycle of a relationship.
2. “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” Nothing needs to be said to explain this. Except that it’s another song about a destroyed relationship.
1. “The Grand Tour.” Probably my favorite divorce song of all time. And let’s face it, there’s some really stiff competition for that. Including from the Possum himself, as we see here.
Also, the link to “Choices” in my previous post was totally coincidental. I probably would have included that in my top 5 because it’s a great song. So consider it an addendum.
One of the true all time greats, not only in country music, but in all of American popular music.
A very sad day for me.