George Jones, one of the finest singers in the last six decades of country music—hell, of all popular music—has died at age 81. Here is my favorite of his hits:
When Dickey Lee and Steve Duffy composed that, they thought they were writing a funny song. And it's not hard to imagine a more wry singer, a John Prine or a Johnny Cash, doing a good job of taking it in that direction. But Jones turned it into something earnest and amazing: a tribute to how a performer's interpretation can transform what's on the page.
Of course Jones could be funny when he wanted. Here he is with Tammy Wynnette, his partner in music and in an infamously stormy marriage, singing "We're Not the Jet Set":
And since this is a libertarian website, I ought to include Jones' rockabilly-tinged tribute to moonshine, "White Lightning":
Jones' records with Wynette were his most famous duets, but he sang with many other performers as well. I'll wrap up with one of his best joint projects: Jones and Merle Haggard singing Willie Nelson's "Yesterday Wine." I grew up hearing Nelson's version—my parents played his records a lot when I was a boy—and I like that one well enough, but it wasn't til I heard Jones and Haggard's cover that I understood just how good the song could be:
Requiescat in pace.