Thursday, September 15, 2011

George Jones' Top Ten...or Just Ten Greats Out of 160 Plus

One of the Greatest Living Performers--George Jones
 George Jones has had over 160 songs that have made the top of the charts.  From the mid-1950s through the present, he has been recording and singing great songs, many of which became hits.  Jones is a top country singer, a winner of many singing awards and honors, a member of the Grand Ole Opry, a newsmaker (not always for good reasons), and a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.  It is not all that easy to pick his top ten songs.  I have enjoyed his music for decades, but I don't come close to even knowing all his songs.  And some of his lesser known works are just as good as the big hits.

Don't hold me too accountable for the order given below.  I don't even agree with it.

1.  "He Stopped Loving Her Today." This is not only one of Jones' greatest hits, but it is one of the great all time country songs.  It is so incredibly sad and moving that I can hardly ever listen to it without nearly breaking down.  The perspective is that of a friend who observes a man's undying love for a woman who rejected him many years earlier.  Only in death does his love for this woman end.

2. "She's Mine."  This is a less well known Jones song.  I am not even sure if it was a top charted hit.  This song is about a man who accepts the fact that this girl who is in his life will someday leave him and that her love is still with one who has left them.  It seems to be an unusual romantic relationship, until the end of the song reveals the missing element.  The song is about a girl, a daughter, whose mother has "left this world" and the accepting love her father has for her.  "She's mine and yet, I know someday she'll leave me."  "She's a baby, I'm her daddy, and she's mine."  A sweet and moving work.

3.  "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool," with Barbara Mandrell.  I strongly identify with this song.  It is slightly autobiographical.  Barbara Mandrell's portion is great, but the crowd explodes when George enters in and echoes that theme of being country when country wasn't cool.  And there was something better about country music before "everyone" got in on the act.

4.  "I Don't Need No Rocking Chair."  This is a much more recent Jones' song.  It is in part a protest against so many country radio stations and producers who ignore the legends.  It is also a testimony to both Jones' resilience and to that of many an older person who can still do great things.  So many of my heroes have performed great feats in their older years:  Jones, Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill, and Paul Johnson are just a few.

5.  "If Drinking Don't Kill Me, Her Memory Will."  This is a traditional drinking, broken heart song.  I don't like the taste of liquor, but it sure resonates with the soul to hear these kind of powerful lyrics.  You feel the depth of pain that a person can go through in this world and understand why man in his sinful weakness so often seeks consolation in demon rum.

6.  "The Race is On."  What makes this song so attractive is that it was perhaps the first Jones' song I heard.  It was a hit way back in the 1960s.  It is clever and, like many country songs, skillful in its replaying of emotions through metaphors.

7.  "We're Gonna Hold On," with Tammy Wynette.  During the six or so years that Jones and Wynette were married, they produced a great number of wonderful songs.  As it turns out, they were probably better at singing together than living together in marriage.  Any Jones-Wynette duet is worth hearing.

8.  "Angel Band," with Ralph Stanley.  Jones and Stanley have performed several songs together on a couple of albums where Ralph Stanley sings with friends.  I wish they would produce a whole album together.

9.  "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes."  This song is a tribute to many of Jones' friends, fellow singers, and heroes.  It is another tear-jerker for me.  When Jones speaks of Hank, Marty, and Lefty, I find myself saddened by their absence.  And we all know that when George is singing this song, his shoes cannot be filled either.  (Watch the video!)

10.  "Choices."  I am painfully looking past quite a few other songs to chose this one.  I heard it for the first time today.  It is a powerful song that reflects on Jones' own life.  Even for those of us who have been preserved from the problems and failures that Jones both experienced and sings about, we are reminded that we have all made painfully bad and foolish choices.  This song reminds me of how thankful I am for a choice I did not make; in other words, I rejoice in the grace of God's electing love.

Of course, "The Grand Tour" should be on the list.

1 comment:

  1. I would add "The King is Gone (And So Are You)" as an honorable mention. While it doesn't have the emotional resonance of the above songs, it's hard to resist a country song about Elvis and Fred Flintstone.