The King of Country
George Jones passed away last week. There have been a host of eulogies—and I'm going to add to that pile. Not everyone likes country music from the era when Jones was churning out hits (and also a fair amount of crap). I do—I've happily forgotten that many country musicians and their fans were on the other side of the fence from me during the Vietnam Era (see Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee”). As those differences fade into the past, I allow myself to appreciate and love a lot of music I might have written off years ago.
Country music as it exists now is pretty much nothing like what George Jones and others did....and there aren't many from that era left—Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris—and not many who will occasionally resurface with all their brilliance intact, as Jones periodically did. Lazarus indeed.
As country radio DJ Iaan Hughes’ article, “A Three Minute Song,” mentions, “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” took 18 months to record! This kind of country authenticity was finely crafted! Not 18 consistent months in the studio, I hope, but maybe that span of time trying to get the vocals from Jones that producer Billy Sherrill believed was there. He was right—many consider it the greatest country recording ever. It's pretty maudlin, but still it gets you every time. I am surprised—though I shouldn't be—that Sherrill sent the writers of that song back 3 times to tweak it. Having only heard the finished version I can't judge, but this reveals that Sherrill, and maybe Jones too, knew exactly what they wanted. And in that song they got it.
I have tried, and will continue to try, to sing along to Jones and match his melismatic trills and odd phrasing, but I fail every time. But even in failing I am learning something, and I am having a great time.
Check out David Cantwell’s article on George Jones, “The Cold Hard Truth,” originally published in No Depression magazine.
|Choices (LP Version)||George Jones||Amazon|
|We Can Make It||George Jones||Amazon|
|Tender Years||George Jones||Amazon|
|She Thinks I Still Care||George Jones||Amazon|
|We Must Have Been Out Of Our Minds (With Melba Montgomery)||George Jones||Amazon|
|A Good Year For The Roses||George Jones||Amazon|
|Picture Of Me (Without You)||George Jones||Amazon|
|What My Woman Can't Do||George Jones||Amazon|
|Same Ole Me||George Jones||Amazon|
|The Grand Tour||George Jones||Amazon|
|These Days (I Barely Get By)||George Jones||Amazon|
|The King Is Gone (So Are You)||George Jones||Amazon|
|Golden Ring||Tammy Wynette & George Jones||Amazon|
|He Stopped Loving Her Today||George Jones||Amazon|
|I'm Not Ready Yet||George Jones||Amazon|
|If Drinkin' Don't Kill Me (Her Memory Will)||George Jones||Amazon|
|Two Story House||Tammy Wynette & George Jones||Amazon|
|Still Doin' Time||George Jones||Amazon|
|The Race Is On||George Jones||Amazon|
|The Door||George Jones||Amazon|
|(We're Not) The Jet Set||George Jones & Tammy Wynette||Amazon|
|Bartender's Blues||George Jones||Amazon|
|Walk Through This World With Me||George Jones||Amazon|
|The Bottle Let Me Down||George Jones||Amazon|
|The Window Up Above||George Jones||Amazon|
|You're Still On My Mind||George Jones||Amazon|
|Total running time: 1:14|