Ahead of tonight’s all-star tribute to George Jones at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, there was this from Nashville Tennessean music writer Peter Cooper:
He also knew that there were public whispers and a few media barbs directed at Nancy Jones: Surely, she’s just keeping him out there to pad the bank accounts. She should let that poor old man live his life out in peace.
There’s another thing George Jones knew: The only way to peace was to get on a bus, travel to Bossier City, La., or Tunica, Miss., or Knoxville, Tenn., inhale some oxygen from a tank, get on a stage and give them everything that was left of him….
“I begged him to come off that road, and he would not,” Nancy Jones says. “He lowered all the keys and tried, really, really hard. I would say, ‘Just stop it,’ and he said, ‘In my mind, I think of all those old mamas that saved their money for me, and I was a no-show.’ In the last year, the fans never complained. They knew he was weak, and they knew he was leaving. He just wanted to prove he loved them. He’d say, ‘Even if I can’t sing that good anymore, I’ve got to make up for what I did.’ ”
I can barely read those words even now. There are people who would probably say that George Jones was just a singer, and that what he did was just music, but it wasn’t. It was more than that, so very much more. And, well…you know, I could try to explain why it was more, and why that left the impression on me that it did, but I just can’t. You either get it or you don’t.
Rest in peace, George. We all miss you terribly.