"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Saturday, April 27, 2013

There'll Never Be Another

We lost a country music legend, yesterday.  George Jones, “the Possum” passed away at 81 years of age.  I was surprised when my husband told me.
“Why are you surprised, for crying out loud?  He was old and he wasn’t in the best health.”
“I don’t know; I just am…I kinda thought he would live forever”, I replied.
George Jones has been around for as long as I can remember.  He’s simply a part of this life that I know as mine. I mean, he was singing country music when I was a kid; my folks listened to him way back then. I can still hear the distinct country voice of that old icon as I write about those early years:
"Now the race is on and here comes pride up the back stretch
Heartaches are going to the inside
My tears are holding back, trying not to fall
My heart's out of the running
True love's scratched for another's sake
The race is on and it looks like heartaches
And the winner loses all."
Cool words! Country music poetry. I love so many of his songs, but George was never one of my favorites.  I don’t have any of his albums from way back then, nor do I have any of his more current CD’s. For all of the songs of his that I, in fact, do love, none have made my “very favorite” list.

Years ago -  it would have been in the early 80’s - his number one hit He Stopped Loving Her, Today came out. This song is quite possibly the biggest hit in country music ever - by any artist. I was at work where we were able to listen to the radio as we worked.  We had KMPS on, everyone’s favorite country music station. “He stopped loving her today.” George’s voice sang out as we worked.
“Man this song is sad!” my boss exclaimed, though in a melancholy way.
“What’s so sad about this song?” I countered. I really hadn’t paid too much attention, enjoying the melody, but never really listening to the words. I thought it was just another song about divorce…you know, kind of what country music is known for. ;-) I will never forget the look on my boss’s face as I said that.
“Have you listened to the words?” he asked, half-shocked. “Listen!” he almost demanded.
So I paused what I was doing to listen to the words of the country ballad that I had heard any number of times…without really listening.
He stopped loving her today
They placed a wreath upon his door
And soon they'll carry him away
He stopped loving her today
When the words finally hit my heart, I burst into tears right then and there, and my boss burst into laughter.

“See,” he said.  “I told you!” 
I remember that moment like it was yesterday.  I can even still see the sparkle in my boss’s eyes.  
But that is kind of the way it is with George Jones, I think.  He is nobody’s favorite, but at the same time everyone, I’m sure, holds a deep heartfelt thought and respect for George Jones.
After I heard the news about his death, I watched to see if there was commentary about it on the news.  There was, of course, but not all of it flattering.  I watched the hosts on the Five, talk about it, and it was plain they barely knew who George Jones was.  Now, I love The Five (all 7 or 8 of them) but I think they missed the important part about George Jones. They laughed about his 4 marriages and made fun of his years of alcoholism…talking about the years it could have ruined his career.   They didn’t know that those years earned him the title of “No-Show Jones” and how he fought courageously back; winning that battle. He came back with another 2 decades of sobriety and a multitude of number one hits.  That’s probably really what they should have reported. The group on The Five didn’t know he was affectionately known as “the possum” to his friends and fans. And they almost seemed to forget George Jones had family, friends, and fans that might be grieving.
One of those friends would be Alan Jackson; my longtime favorite country music artist.
Alan’s post on Facebook was what led to this post on my blog.  I couldn’t get it out of my mind.  I knew of the love Alan had for George…well, I guess only because I am a country music fan.

A few years ago, one of the country music award shows, had planned for George to sing one of his number one hits, but they were only going to allow him 90 seconds.  Of course, George was insulted and told them that barely warranted him the trouble of showing up. The shows producers wouldn’t relent, so George made the decision to refuse to sing if it was going to be for only 90 seconds causing him to have to edit his popular hit.
Alan Jackson also had a performance at the award show that year. The audience was blown away, when during the middle of Alan’s performance, Alan raised his hand as if to signal something. Sure enough without missing a beat, his band immediately went into transition playing the song George was supposed to sing, while Alan beautifully crooned the lyrics. The crowd went wild, as Alan finished the song, turned around - never looking back - and slowly walked off the stage.  Now that is a friend.  Those are the stories that make up country music and one of the reasons why I am such a country music fan.
Alan’s affection and respect was also displayed on Facebook, and as I said was what led me to this blogpost:

From Alan about his friend, George Jones.

“Well, heaven better get ready for some great country music. While George was known for his wild and crazy days, I’ve known him for 25 years as a friend. He had grown into a real good man. Of course, he’ll always be the greatest singer and interpreter of real country music – there’ll never be another. Like the song says, ‘You know this old world is full of singers, but just a few are chosen to tear your heart out when they sing. Imagine life without them…Who’s gonna fill their shoes?’”

And from another longtime fan, Toby Keith -  
"George Jones has passed…. Thought he'd live forever. Let's break out his catalogue and play it all day Godspeed possum and family. – T

Nope, don’t believe there will ever be another George Jones…

And my very favorite, Alan Jackson's tribute to George at Alan's recent concert.
Hey, Jesus...

No comments:

Post a Comment