Monday, April 29, 2013

On George Jones' Death

The funny thing about regret is,
That its better to regret something you have done
Than to regret something you haven't done

I regret having never seen George Jones live.

He was on my bucket list, but good is a bucket list if you don’t follow it? George Jones has played around my neck of the woods on more than one occasion-mostly casinos-but I failed to take proper notice of these events and never got to see him.

And now he’s gone, but at 81, how much longer did I really anticipate him touring?

I Lived To Tell It All is his autobiography, and it’s highly recommended. It’s available in cheap-ass paperback, so add it to your summer reading schedule. After a while, the off-the-wagon/on-the-wagon back and forth gets a bit much, to the point where you’ll agree that 81 years was a pretty generous ride, and I suppose an enviable one if you’re like me and afraid of dying young.

Maybe he was allowed to stay with us this long because our higher power has a soft spot for remarkable voices. My guess is that boys in East Texas-particularly the ones who grew up around Jones’ childhood-were raised with the expectation that they should suppress emotion and to hide their feelings.

But with George, all of that came out in that sweet blessing of a voice. He shouldered the emotions of a lot of men, nationwide, and the songs that he interpreted spoke large for those without much of a voice, or the skills of how to express their own emotions properly.

Take a look at the number of kids who are speaking about the death of George Jones right now. You’ll find a lot of sons who remember the only cassette that their dad ever carried in the glove compartment of their car was a lone George Jones tape, probably picked up at some two-lane truck stop when they were away from home.

Over this past weekend, I heard a friend tell he nearly this same story, adding that, when he was younger, he resented George Jones because it was the only tape his old man had, which caused repeated listens. It wasn’t until he turned 30 before he understood how unfounded his resentment was, and how fucking awesome George Jones is.

I can understand that. When you’re a teenager, you think that Metallica, or Pantera, or Slayer, or Black Flag, or whatever, is the heaviest sounds on planet Earth. Then you get older and understand that cats like George Jones are much, much heavier.

Your Dad was right: if you only have one cassette in your glovebox, it might as well be a George Jones tape.

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