It was a George Jones song that first got me interested in Country Music.
Tender Years – summer of 1961. I was still in high school. I listened to it over and over and was so taken by the way it was written and performed that I insisted the Statlers record it on an album ten years later. It was written by Darrell Edwards, a childhood friend of George’s but it was all Jones all the way.
George and the Statlers worked stage shows together; did tv together – many awards shows and he guested on the Statler tv show in the 90s. He gave us one of the most classic performances of Rockin’ Chair you’ll ever hear or see. But here is my favorite George Jones story:
Our comedy album of Lester ‘Roadhog’ Moran and the Cadillac Cowboys had just come out in the early 70s. He and Tammy Wynette, who were married at the time, were riding down the road one day and a cut from our album came on the radio. It happened to be us as the Cadillac Cowboys butchering a song called Why Baby, Why. It made George very mad and he turned the radio off and said, “that kind of stuff shouldn’t be allowed on the air”. (And this is even funnier when you know that George wrote Why Baby, Why.) Tammy immediately says, “Wait, George, turn that back on. I think there’s more to this than we first thought.”
He turned it back on and got the full story that it was the Statlers doing a comedy album and they both laughed and were big fans of the album from then on. George and Tammy both have told us this story and loved telling it.
Wilson/Fairchild, who are my son, Langdon and my nephew Wil, have been working with George for the last couple of years. They were his opening act. They can tell you also how loved he was by a wide range of fans. The last show, the one they had to cancel in Huntsville, AL this Saturday night, was a sellout. And that’s pretty good for a man who had been doing it for sixty years.
Go in peace, George. You’ve earned the rest.
The explosions; the smoke and residue; people running – not knowing from what and not knowing to where. The streets of Boston yesterday reminded me way too much of the streets of New York nearly twelve years ago. My first reaction was shock; then disbelief; sadness; then anger. Then I finally had the good sense and frame of mind to just sit down and pray for all of those who were injured, physically and emotionally, and especially for those who had lost their lives. The scars of the family and friends of each of these will last for years and lifetimes. The effect on our nation will be forever.
We each have our way to mourn. And those in the public eye sometimes have to make a quick decision which way is best for them. If they choose the wrong one they will be ridiculed for years; if they choose the right way, they’ll be viewed as having a good and sincere nature. Being an entertainer at heart, I thought about the live-to-tape daily television shows and how they might handle it. Would they cancel their shows in deference to the tragedy or go on with business as usual?
Letterman, Leno and Fallon were on vacation and in reruns so there was no decision to be made. But all the others – Conan O’Brien, Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Kimmel and Ellen DeGeneres addressed the situation either before or after the entertainment started. Dancing With The Stars host Tom Bergeron – live from Hollywood – also acknowledged the people of Boston. I was happy and proud of the way the entertainment industry reacted and involved itself.
When the towers fell in 2001, we were on our tour bus on the way west to a series of late summer fairs. When we arrived in Hutchinson, Kansas on September 12, we were prepared to cancel the date in honor of the horror that was consuming the entire country. But it wasn’t our call. Most all of our concert dates were our own and self-promoted so we had total autonomy over whether the show would go on or not. But these were fairs and we were under contract to the state and the fair boards. It was their call and their call was that you can’t postpone a State Fair. They insisted we go on and we did.
I remember just walking out and talking to the full house who had shown up as if in need of diversion. I told them we didn’t want to be there and didn’t want to be doing this but then maybe this is what we all needed to be doing. We sang a few songs and talked some more. We eased into some comedy and finally hit a stride of escapism and a spirit of heart that was good for all of us on the stage and all of the folks in the audience.
It isn’t always easy to know the right thing to do, but when you do it, you know it’s the right thing. America will do it and it will be right and strong and we will prevail.
I’m still in shock. The sadness has not subsided. I will pray for those in need. I will pray that we capture those responsible. And then I’ll work on praying for those responsible. That may not come today because I’m just too human. God knows that I don’t always come around as quickly as I should when it comes to seeking grace for the perpetrators.
I’ll get there, I hope, but today, I’m still angry.