Friday, April 26, 2013

Remembering George Jones (1931-2013)-- Off to Honky Tonk Heaven

As news of the death of longtime country star George Jones began to circulate,  the aforementioned witticism was shared on social media.  During his 69 year career in country music, Jones was renowned for his distinctive  honky tonk  phrasing and his hard-living lifestyle  reputation.  Jones was married twice before the age of 24 and had four marriages during his lifetime. 

Jones' addition to alcohol was so intense that Jones' second wife Shirley Ann Corley hid the keys to their cars before leaving, knowing that her soused spouse would not walk eight miles to Beaumont to get more hooch.  But Jones bragged in his autobiography  "I Lived to Tell It All"  (1997) that she failed to hide all the keys as she left the lawnmower key.

There, gleaming in the glow, was that ten-horsepower rotary engine under a seat. A key glistening in the ignition. I imagine the top speed for that old mower was five miles per hour. It might have taken an hour and a half or more for me to get to the liquor store, but get there I did.

Sadly, this was not a one off experience.  Jones' third wife, country star Tammy Wynette  recalled in her autobiography "Stand By Your Man" (1979)that she noticed that her husband was gone at 1 am.  So she drove 10 miles to the nearest bar, only to find that Jones had driven his riding mower on the highway to get there.  When Wynette arrived, Jones looked up and said:  "Well, fellas, here she is now. My little wife, I told you she'd come after me."

In 1996, George Jones made a video of the Honky Tonk Song which parodied these instances of "John Deere" infamy.  

Jones perpetuated this hard living mythos with his hit "If Drinking Doesn't Kill Me."  Jones did not make light of his addition to cocaine. 

Now that his inner demons have been quelled by shedding his mortal coil, may George Jones rest in peace.

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