My Ten Favorite George Jones Songs
George Jones is an American Icon. His voice is an instrument itself. Jones had the uncanny ability to bend notes with his voice and sound like a human steel guitar. I would go so far as to say that no artist defines the country genre and heart-broke condition like The Possum. What follows is a look at my ten favorite Jones recordings. Just a fun little piece I felt like writing. You can argue about your definitions of country all you want, but Jones IS pure, traditional country. We were so fortunate that George lived through all his troubles and dark times to make it out alive and give us many more years. God bless George Jones. We miss you.
10.) “The One I Loved Back Then (The Corvette Song)”
Songwriter: Gary Gentry
Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes (1985)
Like all Jones recordings, pure honky-tonk. The live performance of it was always a ton of fun with the upbeat pace of the song antithetical to the memory of a loved one who left her man behind. The chorus takes off like the corvette Jones is singing about.
9.) “Radio Lover”
Songwriters: Curly Putman, Ron Hellard, and Bucky Jones
Jones Country (1983)
Ah, the murder ballad. It was once of country’s biggest style of songs. “Radio Lover” gives the class of songs a new spin. The narration toward the end of the song is tragic, and the imagery is quite vivid for such a specifically written song.
8.) “The Door”
Songwriters: Norro Wilson and Billy Sherrill
The Best of George Jones (1974)
Chilling. Again, George’s vocal lifts a good song to greatness. The actual sound of the door slamming stands out, especially listening to it for the first time.
7.) “The Cold Hard Truth”
Songwriter: Jamie O’Hara
Cold Hard Truth (1999)
Cold Hard Truth was George’s 56th studio album. Yet the album was littered with songs that George could’ve easily recorded in 1956, 1970, or 1982. “The Cold Hard Truth,” along with “Choices” is my favorite of the bunch. It’s a predictable theme that George again lifts to excellence and relatability.
6.) “Hell Stays Open All Night Long”
Songwriter: Bobby Harden
You Oughta Be Here With Me (1990)
The days, weeks, and months after a breakup are littered with a myriad of emotions. You have the despair, loneliness, and sadness. You have the brief, fleeting moments where you like to think you’re better off without her. Then you have the lowest points- pining for her to just come back but hearing that she wants nothing more to do with you. This song speaks perfectly to that place.
5.) “The Race Is On”
Songwriter: Don Rollins
The Race Is On (1965)
“The Race Is On” very well may be the first Jones song I ever heard years ago. Much like “The Corvette Song,” “The Race Is On” deals with heartbreak in a fast-paced honky-tonk manner.
4.) “If Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me (Her Memory Will)”
Songwriters: Harlan Sanders and Rick Beresford
I Am What I Am (1980)
There’s so much about this song that makes it one of my favorites. The extremes at which George was living at the time make the lyrics real and vivid. Shutting down the bars, passing out in the car in his driveway, draining ten bottles…it’s all there. George would frequently throw Tammy Wynette’s name in place of “her” in the song, making it even more painful. The Possum was in an incredibly dark place at the time, and I will never cease to be amazed at how he made it out alive and gave us many more years of legend. The live performances of this song were always a delight.
3.) “He Stopped Loving Her Today”
Songwriters: Bobby Braddock and Curly Putnam
I Am What I Am (1980)
I recently saw a discussion on Twitter in which many people were underselling the brilliance of “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” It was blasphemous. I won’t mention who, but let’s just say it was led by an East Nashville hipster who has been cultivating notoriety and supposed “fame” thanks to his “edginess.” But “He Stopped Loving Her Today” is close to being the perfect country song. It’s one of the greatest recordings in the history of music and deserves every ounce of the acclaim and accolades it receives. Words cannot do it justice. Just go listen.
2.) “I’ve Aged Twenty Years In Five”
Songwriters: Bob Parrish and Curtis Gordon
I Am What I Am (1980)
It’s one of my favorite Jones recordings. I can relate to the lyrics so well, and George’s vocal here is devastating. It may not be as well known as some of the others I’ve mentioned, but no essential Jones playlist is complete without it. He lived the words he was singing. Always. You never felt like George was playing an act on stage or on an album. Everything he sang was completely genuine.
1.) “The Grand Tour”
Songwriters: Norro Wilson, George Richey, and Carmol Taylor
The Grand Tour (1974)
Ironically, I was actually introduced to “The Grand Tour” by Garth Brooks around Thanksgiving 2013 on the accompanying DVD to his box set CD release Blame It All on My Roots: Five Decades of Influences. Garth covered the last verse of the song, and I was hooked on it. I sought out The Possum’s version immediately, and I was blown away. It’s the saddest song in country music history, as far as I’m concerned. George takes the listener on a first-hand journey through his house after his woman left, taking “nothing but our baby and my heart.” Devastating.