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.
- Allen, Bob. George Jones: the life and times of a honky tonk legend. Secaucus, N.J. : Carol Pub. Group, 1994.
- Isenhour, Jack. He stopped loving her today : George Jones, Billy Sherrill, and the pretty-much totally true story of the making of the greatest country record of all time. Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, 2011
- Jones, George, with Tom Carter. I lived to tell it all. New York : Villard, 1996.
The following is the fourth in a series of guest posts by retired Senior Music Cataloger Sharon McKinley. After graduating from Cornell University, Eun Ji (Eunice) volunteered in the Music Division for six months in 2010. She spent much of her time taking inventory of music scores in the stacks. Eunice recorded statistics for a […]
The following is a guest post from Head of Reader Services Daniel Boomhower. In the fall of 2012 Dr. Chris Ford, Director of the Baltimore School for the Arts, contacted the Music Division to see if his faculty and students could work with us to develop a research component in conjunction with their production of […]
I was discussing the upcoming appearance of the British choral group Stile Antico with my colleague Susan Clermont, a reference specialist at the Library of Congress, and she related a story about a motet anthology held at the Library of Congress so tinged with intrigue and the lust for printing power that it prompted retelling […]
On Saturday afternoon the Coolidge Collective (my new name for our dedicated audience) will descend on the Library for a fête du clavecin, served by the great harpsichordist and founder/director of Les Talens Lyriques, Christophe Rousset. The program will include a delectable assortment of harpsichord works both familiar and less so, featuring music by François […]
On April 9, 1939, American contralto Marian Anderson (1897-1993) stood as a beacon of hope for a country being torn apart by racial strife. Anderson’s legendary performance at the Lincoln Memorial on that Easter Sunday exists in the annals of American history as a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights movement. After being denied the […]
This Friday, April 5, the Library of Congress is excited to host singer-songwriter/composer/musician Gabriel Kahane with pianist-composer Timothy Andres as the two artists present an evening of piano-vocal music that features their own original music alongside that of Bach, Schumann, Britten, Ives, and others. Kahane made an impression in 2006 with his well-known song cycle […]