Monday, May 6, 2013

George Jones

This planet lost a legend with the recent passing of country singer George Jones. In my book, Jones was one of the all-time great singers-- soulful and subtle, throaty and velvety, but raucous and rowdy when the song demanded it.

It's hard for me to pick a favorite George Jones track, but if I had to I think I'd go with "Mr. Fool":

The melody that accompanies the second syllable of the "before" in "I will never be the fool I was before" is really hard to sing (try it), but Jones pulls it off like it's nothing. Brilliant.

I'm also quite fond of "A Good Year for the Roses":

I kind of want to call this song "a country music 'Day in the Life'", but it isn't really. It is, however, really sad and somehow believable as a window into Jones' personal life.

Speaking of which: Jones' issues with drinking are well-documented, but worthy of mention to demonstrate that he's pretty much the archetype of the wild-living country star. Long before the Replacements delved into the form, Jones made a habit of concert truancy that earned him the nickname "No Show" between his first and last.

One never would have called Jones lazy in pursuit of a drink. I'll let the George Jones Wikipedia page tell my favorite story about him:

"One of the best known stories of Jones' drinking days happened when he was married to his second wife, Shirley Corley. Jones recalled Shirley making it physically impossible for him to travel to Beaumont, located 8 miles away, and buy liquor. Because Jones would not walk that far, she would hide the keys to each of their cars they owned before leaving. She did not, however, hide the keys to the lawn mower. Jones recollects being upset at not being able to find any keys before looking out the window and at a light that shone over their property. He then described his thoughts, saying: "There, gleaming in the glow, was that ten-horsepower rotary engine under a seat. A key glistening in the ignition. I imagine the top speed for that old mower was five miles per hour. It might have taken an hour and a half or more for me to get to the liquor store, but get there I did.""

I finally got to see George Jones perform in 2010, at the Freeborn County Fair in Albert Lea, MN with my wife and my mother-in-law. I have to say he wasn't in fine voice, but he was very gracious, and it was a treat to see one of my all-time favorite artists perform. So long, Mr. Jones, and thanks for the beautiful music.

Mike Hallenbeck home page

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