What writers can learn from the greatest voice of all time: George Jones
April 30, 2013
I was on my way to a writers conference last Friday when I received an email on my phone announcing the death of George Jones.
A few minutes later, I walked into the conference and told one of the organizers that we should have a moment of silence to honor George Jones who had just passed away.
“Who?” she asked.
Now I might be able to understand that answer if I had made my remark to someone in New York by god City.
But I was in Texas.
I labored under the impression that everyone in the lone star state knew in their DNA that George Jones was the greatest singer who had ever lived.
I guess not.
But certainly, every writer knows that if she expects to produce a story anyone will read, she needs to present it the way George sang songs.
In case you don’t know what I am talking about, let me give you a little background.
George Jones sang a lot of songs, but one of those became his signature piece. It is the song regarded by every country music fan of the last forty years or so, as the quintessential country song.
He Stopped Loving Her Today.
Just typing the title to the song makes me pause and remember.
George Jones had the uncanny ability to touch his audience directly, as if he was singing the song to each person. It was almost as if you were at the death bed of a loved one, who motioned for you to come close and whispered a secret in your ear.
I’m not kidding.
People make fun of country music as crying in your beer songs.
Anyone who does that is just afraid to admit that they have cried in their beer a time or two, or in their coffee, or in their hot tea.
George Jones, of course, spent much of his adult life drunk. He drank more warming up than most people could drink and remain standing. He never tried to hide it, and dried up in his later years.
I suppose it was his drinking that cost him Tammy Wynette.
I heard a guy say Friday that he went to a Tammy Wynette concert shortly after she broke up with George for the last time.
“She sang gospel songs all night and cried about George,” he said.
That’s why we need to write like George sang.
When George sang, he got under you skin.
He invaded the private recesses of your mind and laid them open.
Don’t even get me started talking about The Grand Tour.