Saturday, April 27, 2013

George Jones Has the Wreath Placed upon His Door

George Jones passed away at age 81 yesterday. For a quarter century, from the late 1950s until the early 1980s, George was one of the biggest stars in country music. Jones specialized in songs that ripped your heart out like He Stopped Loving Her Today - here's a recording from The Ronnie Prophet Show in July, 1980:

He was country before country was cool. In truth, George Jones was never cool, but his great specialty were duets with a lot of cool country women. Here George Jones has I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool sung to him by Barbara Mandrell at the 1981 Country Awards (I remember circling the drive-in, pulling up and turning down George Jones):

For a while, 1969 to 1975, George Jones was married to country queen Tammy Wynette, and they performed a number of beautiful duets together, such as We're Gonna Hold On (something in real life they were unable to do):

Tammy should have seen it coming in her 1968 hit Stand By Your Man:

My favorite George Jones and Tammy Wynette duet is Jet Set from 1974 (No we're not the jet set, we're the old Chevrolet set. Our steak and martinis is draft beer with weenies ... But ain't we got love?):

His first big hit was White Lightning in 1959:

The original White Lightning was by the Big Bopper, Jiles Perry "J. P." Richardson, Jr., who died plowing corn in Iowa with Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens in February 1959. Here's the Big Bopper version of White Lightning:

As you can see by comparison, George Jones had his own square style. He personified the Nashville country sound, love it, hate it, or love to hate it. The legend, though, developed a reputation for unreliability, with too much white lighting leading to missed concert dates and the moniker No Show Jones, which of course became a a country song, performed here at Farm Aid in 1985 (the man could make fun of himself):

The George Jones Show appeared briefly on television in 1998. Here's an episode with Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Vern Gosdin:

If George Jones was the king of Nashville, his daughter with then-wife Tammy Wynette, Tamala Georgette Jones is his princess, all summed up in the tear-jerker Daddy Come Home:

The absent father also showed up some years later for a bittersweet You and Me and Time duet with Georgette:

You can see a real affection in that video. That's the nicest tribute of all. Meanwhile, I imagine the old possum is up there in heaven, trying to strike up a duet with Patsy Cline.

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