I had the honor of meeting the great George Jones only once, but it was one of the most amazing and surprising moments of my professional life. I was writing the CMA Awards for the first time about a decade ago, and rushing backstage at the Grand Ole Opry House when I spotted the familiar face of George Jones in the hall. Growing up, I had discovered George's timeless records through my high school hero Elvis Costello, and I knew just enough to understand that this man was the Sinatra of Country -- a singular singer who somehow changed the game by making you believe every single word. I froze in my steps for a moment, and was stunned when the man himself warmly motioned me over towards him. "I saw your show," George Jones told me. "Loved it. " I had just hosted a short-lived series on Bravo called Musicians in which I interviewed all kinds of musicians. We didn't have millions of viewers, but apparently we had George Jones, and for me, that will always be enough.
A few years ago, our Executive Producer Robert Deaton, Walter C. Miller and I were working with Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley on their material for the CMA Awards, I casually asked Brad Paisley who he thought was the greatest country singer ever, and he looked at me like I was crazy. After a moment, Brad said, "George Jones, period." Carrie, Walter and Robert all agreed. That year, Brad and Carrie sang a little "Golden Ring" during the show and did George and Tammy proud. It's rare that there's ever consensus about who's the best at anything, but George Jones was one of those rare artists. The fact is that the music of George Jones will live forever with absolutely no period at the end. Today, at a stunningly beautiful and loving Memorial for George Jones in that same Opry House, Brad literally sang the hell out of "Me And Jesus" and encouraged young people to "go out and get his records and see what the ruckus is all about." So here are a dozen of my personal favorite George Jones recordings for those who want to learn about this great American artist, and hear for themselves why nobody will ever fill his shoes.
As always, please add your own favorite George Jones songs below.
"The Grand Tour" - George Jones
"A Picture Of Me (Without You)" - George Jones
"White Lightning" - George Jones
"He Stopped Loving Her Today" -- George Jones
"Golden Ring" - George Jones & Tammy Wynette
"A Good Year For The Roses" -- George Jones
"She Thinks I Still Care" - George Jones
"The Race Is On" by George Jones
"Yesterday's Wine" -- George Jones and Merle Haggard
"Choices" by George Jones
"Bartender's Blues" -- George Jones
"Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes" - George Jones