George Jones (1931-2013)

A selection of George Jones’s Copyright deposits in the Music Division collection. Photo by Pat Padua.

In the Muse was saddened to learn that classic country singer George Jones died today. The 81-yr old performer was in the process of completing what was to be his farewell concert tour.

George Glenn Jones was born in 1931 inSaratoga,Texas.  His early career reads like something out of American myth.  When Jones turned 16 he left his hometown for Jasper,Texas, where he knew a family on Highway 63 and was introduced to local musician Dalton Henderson. Jones and Henderson sang on local station KTXJ, and played boozy venues with names like the Log Cabin.

Country music is full of stories about sin and redemption, and Jones’s volatile life fueled the whole spectrum of his work.  One of his biggest early hits, “White Lightnin'” (1959) was a frenetic paean to moonshine, but he also recorded gospel music throughout his career.  As his instrument matured, Jones’s patient phrasing grew into one of the most expressive voices in country music.  In 2008, the National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress named the heartbreaking 1980 hit, “He stopped loving her today” to the National Recording Registry.   Those who consider art to be more consolation than commerce will find bitter solace in this statistic:  the signature lament is more popular on the funeral home circuit than on country music radio.

Jones is better known as an interpreter than a songwriter, but the Music Division’s coffers hold a number of Possum’s own compositions, including “Tall, tall trees,” a 1957 collaboration with Roger Miller (best known for “King of the road”) and numerous collaborations with then-wife Tammy Wynette. In the Muse hopes its readers put on their George Jones records tonight and toast him to the big honky tonk in the sky.

Further reading:

 

 

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