Friday, April 26, 2013

He Stopped Loving Her Today, Dept.

The greatest country singer of all time has gone to the Big Opry in the Sky.

George Jones, the Ol' Possum, is dead at 81.  He skated close enough to that line plenty of times by accident and misbehavior.  His manager reportedly got him on coke to counteract his heavy drinking, so you know he was not a man of moderation.

But any song he sang, he transformed by the care he gave each note as it swooped or cracked depending on whether he sang about love or loss.

George and Tammy Wynette were only married for six years, but I'm sure they felt like 60 sometimes.  He recorded one of his best-known songs five years after their divorce; whether it spoke in any way about his feelings for his ex, who can say?  But it's regularly voted the best country song ever, and it stands as a model for the genre: his inimitable voice slowly unfolding for us a tale of heartbreak with a lyrical twist that adds kick and even a little mordant humor: "He Stopped Loving Her Today."

I could've posted one of his early numbers, such as "White Lightning" or "Who Shot Sam?" or "The Race Is On."  Or one of his later hits such as "The Grand Tour" or "If Drinkin' Don't Kill Me (Her Memory Will)" or "A Good Year for the Roses."  Any or all would've been great.

So, the King has left the building.  The circuit from Jimmie Rodgers the Singing Brakeman to Hank Williams to George Jones is now closed.  Shut down the genre or call it something else.  But the last country singer has gone to his final rest.


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