Damn it.

I can’t explain exactly why, but this one hurts, worse than I thought it would, almost as bad as losing George Jones.

Country Music Hall of Famer Don Williams died Friday after a short illness. He was 78 years old.

Standing over 6 feet tall, with a smooth baritone and soft-spoken nature, Williams was known as the “Gentle Giant” of country music. He was a staple of country radio in the 1970s and ’80s, releasing 16 No. 1 songs between 1974 and 1985.

Don Williams once sang, “what’ll you do, with good ole boys like me?”

As I put it elsewhere, the more pressing question now is — what will we do without good ole boys like him?

Maybe that’s why it hits so hard: he was a simple and honest man, without an ounce of arrogance or pretension, if not the last of a dying breed, pretty close to it.

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