George Jones: Hits I Missed... And One I Didn't

Jason MacNeil

Very strong voice after all these years on very strong covers makes the Possum's latest a very pleasing, enjoyable, repeatable listen.

George Jones

Hits I Missed... and One I Didn't

Label: Bandit
US Release Date: 2005-09-13
UK Release Date: Available as import
iTunes affiliate
Amazon affiliate

Currently, George Jones is on another rather large and extensive swing of Canadian cities which he seemed to just visit. Now 74 years young, Jones has recently been praised just for the simple fact he's still out on the road. But also for the fact that the voice, while not in its heyday (unless he lives to be 130), is stronger than it should be for someone his age. No booze, no smokes is what he attributes it to. For the last few years, Jones has made some albums that really don't do him justice, but this little collection of covers from his early and later contemporaries is a very fine exclamation point on a career that only Garth or Chris Gaines could ever dream of. Oh, and he also includes that little hit "He Stopped Loving Her Today" that he recorded in 1980, about 25 years into his career. And each of these songs suits his style to a tee, leading off with the standard "Funny How Time Slips Away". While the arrangement is quite deliberate and harks back to the early slick but solid production values of the '70s, Jones nails the song simply by doing what he does best, never pushing himself but rather relying on that classic timbre to get the point across. "How am I doing? Oh I guess that I'm doing fine", he utters in a style that is singing while speaking the lyrics.

Throughout the album, you get the impression that Jones could have started reading the Oxford English Dictionary as lyrics or tried his hand at country-fying Sean Paul and come off with similarly strong results. The timeless opener gives way to "Detroit City", which was originally done by a next door neighbor of Jones' at one time: Bobby Bare. The song, written by Mel Tillis and Danny Dill, starts off with the refrain "I wanna go home" that will make you recognize the tune even if the title doesn't ring a bell with you initially. Again a slow, ambling kind of country tune with some nice harmonies and pedal steel accents. He speaks his way through one of the verses but it does nothing to diminish the overall tune, ending rather abruptly but adhering to the once Biblical commandment "Thou shalt not be over three minutes in length." The first real highlight comes during "The Blues Man", a Hank Jr. cover featuring Dolly Parton. This song is stripped down and is almost dirge-like in nature. Parton brings a brightness to the song despite its rather bleak nature. It's as if Jones is singing his own autobiography as the lyrics speak about drugs and then a certain person changing his life.

While Jones champions several artists that he grew up with in his early career, he is also keen on celebrating those few musicians who have still managed to make credible country in an ever-increasing glut of sonic gunk. His rendition of "Here in the Real World", originally done by Alan Jackson, is just such an example. While not packing the power of Jackson's voice, Jones manages to make it his own a mere 20 to 30 seconds in. Perhaps the album's nadir, though, comes in "If You're Gonna Do Me Wrong", previously done by Vern Gosdin. While Jones is very good, the song just doesn't seem to suit him. Faring far better is "Today I Started Loving You Today", a Merle Haggard gem that Jones dusts off and gives his own little quality-riddled whirl. Ditto for the Randy Travis signature "On the Other Hand" that seems to be one of the finest songs here, especially since Jones' voice is a tad better here than on other offerings.

There is one rather odd selection but it's worth it. Henson Cargill's "Skip a Rope" is one of those quirky country songs that made its way to radio which talks about mommy and daddy fighting and stabbing people in the back, among other things. And while he closes with his signature song, Jones does a great job on the slow, swaying, fiddle-fuelled "Busted" that Ray Charles made a Number One hit, giving it a slight Cajun feeling. Judging by the strength of covers, Jones might be better off making this the first of a few such similar efforts.


From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.