George Jones Starts The Grand Tour

George Jones died today, in Nashville, at age 81.  He was the greatest country singer of his generation, and perhaps the greatest country singer, ever.

Jones lived a rough-and-tumble life and was legendary for his unpredictable behavior, but his musical talent was unquestionable.  It was gigantic.  Jones had an authentic country voice, with a lilting twang and an ability to wring every ounce of emotion out of his songs.  He was a real person and real performer, not some phony, blow-dried, cowboy hat-wearing pop star masquerading as a country singer.  I loathe “modern” country, but I could listen to George Jones and Merle Haggard and Patsy Cline all night long – and just might do so tonight.

I’ve posted the YouTube video of Jones singing The Grand Tour (and being introduced by his one-time wife, Tammy Wynette) because the title seems apt, but also because the song is a good illustration of his awesome prowess as a singer.  It’s a simple song about a man who has been left by his wife, but Jones turns it into a poignant, deeply moving glimpse into the shards of a life.

I don’t often urge people to do this or buy that, but if you’ve never listened to country music, give George Jones a try.  He and his music were pieces of Americana, and we may not see their like again.

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