They'll lay George Jones to rest Thursday, after public viewing at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, the longtime, pre-Opryland home of the Grand Ole Opry, restored long ago as a concert hall. After a private visitation for friends and family Wednesday evening, the Thursday morning services will be open to the public .
He'll be interred in Nashville's Woodlawn Memorial Park, also the resting place of several other Hall of Famers, among them Johnny and June Carter Cash, Tammy Wynette, record producer Owen Bradley, Eddy Arnold and Marty Robbins as well as Jerry Reed, not yet a Hall of Famer.
Thinking of Woodlawn reminds me of the close friendship between Jones and Johnny Paycheck. Paycheck, born in Ohio, was one of Jones' most notable vocal disciples. In fact, before he became a star on his own in the late 60's, Paycheck paid dues playing bass and singing harmony in Jones's touring band the Jones Boys.
They remained close through their respective good and bad times until Paycheck's death from emphysema in February, 2003. Having endured his own years of hard living (including a prison term for a 1985 shooting), Paycheck, due to his illness, was broke and no longer able to perform when the end came.
Jones, known as much around Nashville for his compassion as much as his talent, intervened. He was one of a number of Paycheck friends who paid for the funeral and Jones himself purchased a cemetery plot adjacent to his own at Woodlawn.
These two performances come from the low-budget 1965 movie Forty Acre Feud. The was moronic; these tunes, both # 6 country singles that same year, are now considered Jones classics. Paycheck, then a Jones Boy, harmonizes with the boss.
"Things Have Gone To Pieces," considered by many (me included) as one of his best ballads of that decade.
The goofy novelty tune "Love Bug."
They reunited onstage on the short-lived 1998-1999 Nashville Network series The George Jones Show. The song is "Ragged But Right," first recorded by pioneer country singer Riley Puckett in 1934, when George was just three. It wasn't a hit when he recorded it in the 50's but it remained part of his his repertoire from then on.
On this week's "Believe Your Ears" Music Podcast, I'll be looking at Jones's Personal Best. When I interviewed him for the PG in 2001, he listed the ten singles he considered his finest. We'll look at each one. I'll update when it's completed, probably Tuesday or Wednesday.