Please help me get into George Jones

I’ve read countless times that he’s one of the defining acts of country music and for a long time wanted to explore his work, but there’s one problem: I don’t know where to start. He’s one of those artists with a long spanning career, gazillion label changes, countless albums and compilations, so I need a little guidance.

A little background: as a teenager, I thought of country as dull, backwards trucker music. Boy, was I wrong, as I noticed after working my way back to it, like many others, via the Stones, Dylan, the Byrds and the like. I’m still leaning more to country rock and harder edged, folksy or soulful country than anything syrupy or pop-schlock Nashville sound. I prefer Bakersfield to Nashville (not that there’s anything wrong with Nashville per se, Dylan recorded some of his best work there, but I hope you get my gist). So I like Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and of course Hank Williams and stuff like that. As I gather, George Jones had a broad range of styles, but I’m mostly interested in the honky tonk stuff.

I have accounts for Spotify, Deezer and Simfy and therefore have access to much of his work, but you have to wade through tons of cheap compilations to get to the good stuff. My main interests is in classic albums, but with an artist like him, it’s always worth checking out quality compilations, too. Links to crucial songs are of course also welcome.

I’m looking forward to your suggestions.

It’s a sad, sappy, song but the Possums’s “The Grand Tour” is some damned good country music.

Is there any connection to George Jones? And this it what I get on allmusic.comfor the Possums, next to nothing. So, huh?

ETA: just checked youtube and saw that George Jones did a song called the Grand Tour. But who are the Possums?

Or is it a nickname?

George Jones and Ray Charles singing a duet about what they “didn’t see” was pretty funny and classic.

Ok, found out that the Possum is in fact his (not very nice) nickname. Didn’t know that and confused it for a band’s name. Carry on and keep 'em coming.

The Race Is On has sort of a Bakersfield/Honky Tonk sound to it.

White Lightnin’ is another good one.

If you like Buck Owns as a country singer, then George Jones’ White Lightning (1959) would be close.

In 1965, he did The Race is On, another similar song.

Sorry you don’t appreciate his songs that you call syrupy–actually songs that define him. Maybe you’ll grow to love them.

His best would include Golden Ring., He Stopped Loving Her Today, She Thinks I Still Care.

Damn. Ninj’d.

Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes is another one of his good ‘syrupy’ songs.

That may be very well true. I’ll add them to my playlist.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against a good country ballad, even love some real tearjerkers. But sometimes there are songs (in any genre, btw.) which just pass the line between heartfelt and kitsch, and these I want to avoid. Of course you don’t know that particular line of mine (I couldn’t define it myself), so I’ll try out any suggestions given here in this thread. I’m always open to good music.

I grew up in the foothills where the only radio station we could get was WWVA–Big Country!

Until I was a teenager and found Larry Loujacks on WLS from Chicago late at night, I thought country was all there was.

I would recommend watching/listening to the YouTube videos from the Porter Waggoner show, with George Jones on it. Also, look up songs where he pairs with Sammi Smith, Tammy Wynette (his wife at one time), and any other prominent female singer of the time. To me, that’s when George sang his best.

Youtube has several George Jones live concerts. each about an hour long I’d suggest picking one with decent quality. Camera phone footage usually sucks.

or buy his Live concert on DVD

I always seek out a live concert of any new artist. Find out what their music really sounds like.

Seek out a few George and Tammy Duets. Golden Ring and We’re Gonna Hold On are two of their best songs.
Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms is another great duet too.

Just listening to that song and noticed that I know it from the Michael Nesmith version. Love it.

ETA: and that’s another example for the fine line between sappy and embarassing. Listened before to He stopped loving her today, and this went over the line. When it comes to the spoken part, I just can’t take it anymore…

George thought He Stopped Loving Her Today was sappy too.

I prefer George’s up beat honky tonk songs.

Yeah, I wanted to use another word than sappy above, maybe sentimental, but mistyped.

Like others in this thread, I think he did some of his best work in the duets. One of my favorites is Two Story House with Tammy Wynette. Oh, what splendor.

There’s a duet album with Tammy Wynette called, duh, Duets. It’s in my playlist now. I don’t know the music yet, but oh, the hairstyle on the cover, especially the sideburns! What people did to themselves in the seventies. :smiley:

ETA: listening to Two Story House right now. Yeah, that’s to my liking.

I listened to that album once yesterday and a second time right now, and then I was in country heaven, so much I liked it. I especially liked After Closing Time (now that’s a topic a country song should be about) and Did You Ever (very clever).

If anybody has yet suggestions for certain albums or compilations, please post it. I think this an easier way to explore an artist than by single songs, IMHO.

One of my favorites:

It’s Finally Friday!

Another honky tonk sounding song is “I Don’t Need Your Rocking Chair”. It’s a good time, with several other famous singers on it.