The name George Jones has always been synonymous with country music for me. Though, I’ll admit, prior to listening to this album, I couldn’t have named a single song of George Jones’. I knew what he looked like. I learned a few things while listening to this album though.
First thing I learned was, while I have had a strong distaste for country music for a long time, it has mostly been my own musical closed-mindedness. When I was a young kid, probably from about first grade through third, I was a hardcore country western fan. I loved Garth Brooks, Diamond Rio, Travis Tritt, Marty Stuart, Joe Diffie, countless others. I never went anywhere without my cowboy boots and blue jeans. I preferred a belt buckle and 5 gallon hat, too. I was small, 10 gallons would’ve been ridiculous. But somewhere in my 3rd grade year or maybe between 3rd and 4th grades, my love for country music completely died off and was replaced with an intense prejudice against it. Who knows why, kids are weird I guess. I remember being really into TLC’s Waterfalls at the beginning of my 4th grade year. Kind of a weirdly fast leap to make. But even in my love for country music, I somehow never really heard any George Jones.
Another thing I learned was that George Jones didn’t always have what I considered to be his signature hair cut. This was a fluke, my learning this. The picture above displays what I’ve always thought of as the quintessential George Jones coif. Late one night this past week I was watching TV and one of those Best of Country Western Collection infomercials came on. You know what I’m talking about. Box sets of like 20 different CDs, scrolling song titles on the screen while clips of the songs play. Who hasn’t seen those? Well, I stopped to watch, because I love those commercials. I’m not sure why. But suddenly I saw what looked like Jim Carrey from Me, Myself & Irene, wearing a very elaborate country western suit and playing a guitar. Then he started to sing, and I was astounded! It was George Jones! That was something else I learned. George Jones looks like Jim Carrey. Anyone else smell a biopic? But, the haircut:
Looks like TotallyLooksLike.com beat me to the punch. But still, crazy.
This album, though. This album is pretty fantastic. I really enjoy it. It’s an album of duets, and not just duets with typical country western singers, though they’re there. Dolly Parton, Ricky Scaggs, Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Tammy Wynette, just to name a few. But, also in the group is Keith Richards. You know him as the crazy and infamous guitarist of The Rolling Stones and X-pensive Winos. He also recently put out a little book called Life. It’s a great book, by the way. You should definitely read it. But I digress. Keith Richards appears on the title track of the album, and it is not at all what I expected. For all the drugs Keith has done, the man is still an amazingly versatile talent. He disappears into this country western style, you might never know it’s a song featuring one of the best rock and rollers of all time if I hadn’t told you. And it’s a great song! Every song on the album is a great song. I’ve listened to the album all the way through a good 10-15 times, and I never skipped a single song. I did repeat the opening track, You and Me and Time (featuring daughter Georgette Jones) numerous times. It’s a beautifully performed song and quite sweet.
There are few things in music like the good old country western duet. No other genre of popular western music really embraces the duet like country does, and for good reason. George Jones (along with some friends), proves that it’s just really hard to beat a good country western duet. Maybe that’s why other genres don’t seem to attempt it as much.
George Jones is the man. Just look at that hair. Those sunglasses. The pinky ring. That laid-back, bring-it-on attitude in the picture above. You look at the lines in his face and you just know the man has probably wrestled at least two bears. That might not be true, there’s no way of knowing for sure. But he is a very talented man with a very distinctive voice. A voice that you can’t help but love.
My name is TR Snyder and I am a George Jones fan.
Next week: Break Up by Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson. Also, probably another candidate for the chopping block.