RIP George Jones (Sept. 12, 1931 – April 26, 2013)

Might be strange, maybe even inappropriate, to start off an obituary like this one by saying I’m not the world’s biggest country-music fan. Just happens to be true, though. No disrespect intended to the country music world, and its fans, but that music genre just isn’t my cup of tea.

There are some huge exceptions to that, though, which absolutely include the giants and pioneers…like George Jones.

Not long ago I obtained for my dad a copy of George Jones’s 1997 biography, I Lived To Tell It All. You’ll have to take my word on this: I had every intention of turning the book over to him right away, with no delay. But then I idly opened it, and read the first page. Then the second, and then…well, dad eventually got his book, but not before I’d finished it. All apologies to my father for the lag, but no regrets. George Jones’s book—and his story—were absolutely fascinating. I came away not just knowing much more about one man’s life (though I certainly did), but also quite a bit about country music and the entertainment industries of the sixties, seventies, and eighties; not to mention the cautionary tale of cocaine indulgence and the vanishing ephemerality of fast money. More than a little about the Dixie Mafia, too.

As fascinating as his story is, I think it’s just as important to remember what made George Jones famous in the first place. Frank Sinatra once said Jones had the second-best voice in America (and that, no doubt, was the highest compliment ‘Ol Blue Eyes was capable of bestowing). Watch the clips below, which neatly bookend the most momentous years of George Jones’s career. With White Lightning we hear a young man, with his young band, engaging the spotlight with what might be thought of as a contemporary song of the South. And with He Stopped Loving Her Today we have the mature performer, secure in his position, crooning of loss. In both cases, and with the entirety of Mr. Jones’s career, the talent was unmistakable.

George Jones died today at age 81 in Nashville, one of his many adopted hometowns. He’s survived by his beloved wife Nancy, two sons, two daughters, and a stepdaughter. His extended family, which includes his millions of fans, will ensure that his music lives forever.


About editor, facilitator, decider

Doesn't know much about culture, but knows when it's going to hell in a handbasket.
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