By Kurt Wolff
When George Jones passed away last April, the music world lost one of its greatest voices. But it wasn’t just pure vocal chops that earned Jones his place as one of popular music’s most legendary performers — it was also his innate ability to choose meaningful songs and take them to places only he could know. Some were silly (“Root Beer,” anyone?), many were deeply sad, but all the great ones reached deep into a place in your soul and shook you from your core.
Everyone knows Jones for the song that became his signature, “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” And it is a powerful song that never loses its emotional grip no matter how many times you spin it. But Jones’ career reaches back decades, and he has hundreds, even thousands of fantastic songs in his catalog just waiting for rediscovery.
Tonight (Nov. 22), thousands of fans and musicians (more than 100 are scheduled to perform) will descend on Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena for a long-sold-out George Jones tribute concert. So it seems fitting to pay tribute to ‘The Possum’ by assembling a list of Jones’ most epic songs from throughout his career. Every fan will have their personal favorites, but we stand behind our list below of ten George Jones songs that every music fan should know (note that all are solo recordings, not duets). Consider it a great starting point in exploring his career.
10. “Cup of Loneliness”
Mad Men fans will remember that this scorching gospel song showed up in the end credits in season 2, episode 12. It was among Jones’ earliest recordings, released during the 1950s. Jones cowrote the song, and he unleashes the words with such force that they turn from celebration into something with far more depth and edged in bitterness.