I only attended one George Jones concert and George didn’t show up. We listened to Kitty Wells, Johnny Wright, George Morgan, Marty Robbins, but no George.
In a strange way, I feel rather blessed having been there to witness George not showing up. It was a part of his collective history.
Most of the world knows by now that George Jones, who probably had the most unique, pure country voice in history, passed on to his reward last week in Nashville. It was a sad trip into our little town that morning last week as I heard the news. I tuned into WSM on the computer where the day was dedicated to the music of this giant of a music genre.
George and I go back a long way. From the reports I’ve read, he began his singing career around the age of 12 in east Texas and never quit. He was in the planning stages of his final tour when he passed. Perhaps George used the old adage of “Leave ‘em wanting more” as his final message.
There weren’t many jukeboxes in the countryside during my growing up years that didn’t at one time or another have at least a dozen Jones songs on those flip pages. You couldn’t go into a pool hall or bar without hearing one of the hundreds of songs that George recorded over his years.
The songs ingrained themselves into the very wallpaper of saloons along with cigarette smoke and the smell of stale beer. Those songs in those surroundings felt as comfortable as a well-worn pair of shoes.
I remember watching George Jones perform on some of the original black and white TV shows that featured country music. I remember him wearing a crew cut that left his ears hanging out in no-man’s land. His nickname, “Possum,” seemed to fit him well.
But, his music caught me like a magnet that got too close to a steel fence post.
I fished catfish, hunted raccoons and chased fox and coyotes across the western Iowa landscape all with the music of George Jones playing on the AM car radio. Most of my friends were listening to rock and roll, but not me. I liked those long, lonely sounding, haunting songs with voice inflections that I’ve never heard repeated.
Maybe I was depressed, but George’s songs seemed to speak to me, even if I wasn’t living the lifestyle that he did.
George certainly had his struggles with alcohol and drugs and that is sad. He was not easy on himself, but he was human and he proved it many times.
So, another of my old time country music heroes has gone. He left a legacy that will never be forgotten. That was his greatest gift to folks like me.
I just wished he would have shown up at the Sioux City Auditorium that Saturday night so long ago where he was scheduled to perform. But, George didn’t show up. And, I was there.
See you next time. Okay?