#680: 1959, George Jones, White Lightning

by Jackie_South on April 29, 2013

Another music great passed away on Friday: George Jones, one of Country’s greatest stars, went off to that great Honky Tonk in the sky at the grand old age of 81.  It’s a decent enough age for someone who drank through quite as much as “The Possum”.

I’m too short of time to do him justice, but he was admired by many of his contemparies: Waylon Jennings admired his voice even more than his drinking capacity.  And like Jennings, the coke he enjoyed was often not the sort that gets mixed with Jack Daniels.

Yet Jones always got pigeon-holed as a more mainstream middle-of-the-road artist than the Outlaw gang of Cash, Jennings, Nelson and Kristofferson, even though the first two of those helped bail him out financially when he hit the skids in the seventies (his alcohol and drug abuse led to a period in an Alabama psychiatric hospital).  Perhaps his marriage to Tammy Wynette soon after she recorded Stand By Your Man falsely marked him out in many eyes as a conservative family paragon.

White Lightning wasn’t written by Jones, but he made it a hit after its writer, The Big Bopper, perished in the same plane as Buddy Holly. It was Jones’ first number one and given that it is about Appalachian homebrew,  it seems a fitting tribute – even though I had first heard it as the cover version recorded by (perhaps surprisingly) The Fall.

George Jones, RIP.

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