Our top 10 George Jones songs list looks at the body of work of an iconic country singer-songwriter famed for his distinctive vocals and inspirational lyrical prowess. Bon in 1931, George Jones grew up listening to country music since he was seven. He received his first guitar at age nine, inspiring him to become a musician. Some of the earliest musicians who helped shape his musical career include Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe and King of Country, Roy Acuff. George Jones’ love for music was also inspired by his parents. His mother played the piano at a Pentecostal church, while his father loved playing the guitar and the harmonica.
After a one-year marriage and serving in the US Marine Corps for several years, George Jones launched his musical career. George Jones had before then tried out singing and playing music on a local radio where he met one of his musical idols Hank Williams. After marrying Shirley Ann Corley, George Jones released his debut single “No Money in This Deal.” Soon after his debut single, George Jones started working with his mentor and long-time producer, Pappy Daily. Pappy Daily was also known for his successful work with other artists, including Roger Miller, Melba Montgomery, and The Big Bopper.
George Jones ushered in success after releasing the track “Why Baby Why.” The song was his first single to chart, peaking at number four on the Billboard Country Charts in 1955. Its success saw George Jones invited for tours alongside Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. In the following year, George Jones was talked into trying some rockabilly vibes owing to the success of Elvis Presley.
However, this didn’t work for him as the management had projected. George Jones moved to Mercury Records in 1957, where he met singer Jeannette Hicks. The two collaborated to release several hits as a duet, among them, “Yearning.” “Yearning” was a successful hit rising to the tenth position on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
Between 1959 and 1964, George Jones’ music received commercial and mainstream breakthroughs. It all started with his 1959 single “White Lightning,” which topped the Billboard Country Chart. Not only did he shine on his solo singing career, but also as a songwriter. George Jones penned several successful ballads, including “Seasons of My Heart,” “Window Up Above,” “You Gotta Be My Baby,” and “Color of the Blues.” These songs were successfully covered by Mickey Gilley, Willie Nelson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Stonewall Jackson, Loretta Lynn, and Elvis Costello.
While alcoholism caught up with this country legend, he still managed to reign on the country charts from the mid-’60s to the late ’70s. His vocals were compared to those of Roy Acuff and Hank Williams. George Jones met Tammy Wynette, his later wife, while on tour. The two married in 1969 and even started releasing music together. Their most popular songs include “We’re Gonna Hold On” and “Golden Ring.”
In the 1980s and early 1990s, George Jones made a comeback to the charts, becoming one of the reputable artists in the country scene. During this time, he earned several accolades, including a Grammy Award for the Best Male Country Vocal Performance. George Jones has also collaborated with other musicians, including Melba Montgomery, Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Patti Page, Waylon Jennings, and Lynn Anderson. Before he died in 2013, George Jones was regarded by many as the greatest living country musician. Here we present the best George Jones songs of all time.
#10 – If Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me (Her Memory Will)
Ushering us to the top 10 George Jones songs is the despair ballad “If Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me (Her Memory Will). The song is the third single from I Am What I Am (1980). In this song, George Jones sings about falling out of vehicles early in the morning and his alcohol addiction. His demolished reputation due to alcohol and drug abuse helped him craft some of his best-known ballads. “If Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me (Her Memory Will)” peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot Country Songs.
#9- White Lightning
“White Lightning” is one of the best George Jones songs from the 1959 album White Lightning and Other Favorites. The song was penned by The Big Bopper (J. P. Richardson) and recorded first by country legend George Jones. While most of the best George Jones songs are country ballads, “White Lightning” blends rock and roll, country, and rockabilly elements.
“White Lightning” rose to the top of the Billboard Hot C&W Sides, managing position seventy-three on the Billboard Hot 100. The song marked George Jones’ first ode to reach number one on the charts. However, The Big Bopper didn’t see the song become a success having him die in a plane accident days to its release. “White Lightning” has been covered by Glen Campbell, Waylon Jennings, Joe Diffie, Hank Williams Jr., and The Waco Brothers.
On the top 10 George Jones sons, our number eight ballad is the cover hit “Choices.” Initially, the song was released by country musician Billy Yates. George Jones covered the song releasing it on his album, The Cold Hard Truth (1999). Billy Yates was inspired to pen the song while working in a firm.
However, when sung by George Jones, “Choices” pays homage to the singer’s true-life story. It serves as a roadmap of how choices led him to overcome alcohol and drug addiction. George Jones’s version managed position thirty on both the Billboard Hot Country Songs and Canada Country Tracks charts.
#7- Golden Ring ft. Tammy Wynette
Even though they divorced after six years of marriage, George Jones and Tammy Wynette were a perfect duo when it came to music. One of their best releases was the hit “Golden Ring.” Rafe Van Hoy and Bobby Braddock penned the song. “Golden Ring” was released as the title track to George and Tammy’s album of the same name.
The song was inspired by a TV drama about the life of a revolver. Different people contact the revolver, with different consequences befalling them. Bobby Braddock applied a similar concept about the life of a wedding ring. “Golden Ring” peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Jason Sellers and Pam Tillis covered the song.
#6- She Thinks I Still Care
Number six on our top 10 George Jones songs is the hit “She Thinks I Still Care.” The song is featured on his album Hits by George. Dickey Lee and Steve Duffy penned the lyrics to the song. George Jones heard of the song for his first time when singer and producer Jack Clement played it for him in the studio.
George Jones released the song immediately after leaving Mercury Records for United Artists. “She Thinks I Still Care” saw George Jones receive yet another number one hit on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. The song was covered by other artists, including Connie Francis, Patty Loveless, Anne Murray, and Elvis Presley.
#5- The Grand Tour
“The Grand Tour” is a 1974 hit that served as the title track to George Jones’ album of the same name. George Jones’ still managed to top the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart for the sixth time, credit to this ballad. However, “The Grand Tour” remains one of the saddest releases by this country legend. Critics have named it a perfect modern song about divorce.
Aaron Neville covered this hit in 1993, with his version managing position ninety on the Billboard Hot 100. While his version was not commercially successful, Aaron Neville was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Male Country Vocal Performance category in 1994. During the same year, George Jones was nominated for the same award credit to his song “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair.” However, they both lost the award to “Ain’t That Lonely Yet” by Dwight Yoakam.
#4- Walk Through This World with Me
George Jones received another number one hit on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart credit to “Walk Through This World with Me.” Kaye Savage and Sandy Seamons penned the song. It was released on George Jones’ 1967 album of the same name.
“Walk Through This World with Me” is one of the best George Jones love ballads of all time released by Pappy Daily. Other artists covered the song, including Nancy Sinatra, Tammy Wynette, and Engelbert Humperdinck.
#3- Still Doin’ Time
Still the Same Ole Me (1981) is the home to our number three hit on our top 10 George Jones songs, “Still Doin’ Time.” The song was penned by John Moffatt and country music songwriter Michael P. Heeney. Michael has also penned great hits for Reba McEntire, Eric Church, Tracy Byrd, and Brooks & Dunn.
“Still Doin’ Time” is quite similar to George Jones’ hit “If Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me (Her Memory Will). This follows the song’s narrative of a man who remains in the chains of alcohol abuse. The song peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
#2- Tender Years
“Tender Years” is a 1961 track by country musician George Jones. The song marked George Jones’ second number-one single on the charts. George Jones entered the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number seventy-six. With this song, the singer showcases a nonaggressive vocal approach compared to his honky tonk ballads released some while earlier. George Jones performed “Tender Years” alongside Marty Robbins and Faron Young.
#1- He Stopped Loving Her Today
Number one on the top 10 George Jones songs list is the hit “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” The song is featured on I Am What I Am (1980). “He Stopped Loving Her Today” served as the singer’s comeback after years of drugs addiction. Its lyrics allude to a man whose love leaves, but he never stops loving her for the rest of his life.
George Jones rekindled his successful ways when the song was awarded Single of the Years at CMA Awards. He also received a Grammy Award for the Best Male Country Vocal Performance. The song peaked at number on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Honky-tonk and country-pop singer Alan Jackson performed the song on George Jones’ funeral service in 2013. Later in the year, Alan Jackson teamed up with George Strait to perform the song at the 2013 CMA Awards ceremony.
Feature Photo: Secisek at English Wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
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