George Jones, Gospel Music and Give me that old time religion!

Stuff That Fell Out While I Was Thinking by Tara Linn

One of my favorite entertainers, George Jones, died this year and now when I listen to his sad country twang, it renders his unique voice that much more melancholy.

Country is only a small part of my musical interests and Jones will forever be my favorite country singer. As a matter of fact and in my humble opinion, his brand of country is the only true country music.

Oh, I love the other stuff, and I am enthusiastic about a few of the “country” entertainers, however when I think of a country music approach, it’s not Keith Urban or Carrie Underwood, that come to my mind.

Both magnificent singers and entertainers only I think a song like “He Stopped Loving Her Today” would only confuse these two talented entertainers.

No, you’re going to have to produce someone like “No show, Jones” or “Merle the Pearl” to evoke the kind of emotion that a good old country song deserves.

Having said all of that, I was in a department store the other day and came across a religious CD by George Jones. I didn’t even have to think twice about it as I quickly put it in my shopping basket.

It has all the old gospel songs that I love and it must have been recorded close to the end of George’s life, because the cadence in the voice is a mature George Jones voice.

Every song is a familiar one and every word with my favorite George Jones country twang. His voice deep enough and the music in a key low enough that allows this old voice to sing along.

When I picked up my Mom for a breakfast date, George was in the middle of singing “The Old Rugged Cross” on the car CD. Mom recalled that it was a favorite tune of her Mother’s and that she would enjoy singing it. She reminisced that Grandma had such a sweet singing voice.

(I love it when Mom shares these little nuggets. It conveys a subtle insight and appreciation I don’t often get to experience.)

I don’t think my Mother particularly likes George Jones, but she knows how much I love him, so I suppose she tolerates him for me. On this day though, the gospel nature of the music brought back many memories for her.

Along with remembering the sweet voice of my grandmother, my mother remembered my grandfather conducting her and a couple of her sisters in a little three part harmony gospel of their own. She (my mother) disclosed that after some practicing, she and her young sisters would stand before their church congregation and sing.

That little nugget leaves a wonderful image in my mind’s eye.

My appreciation for gospel music came easily. I love the harmony, the great lyrics, the emotion and the rousing upbeat rhythm.

When I was a kid, our family lived across the street from what we referred to as a “holy-roller” church. There were sermons coming from the open windows of the church, (especially from the Wednesday night prayer meetings) that would sometimes become loud and crazy.

Being the literal girl that I was and still am, I would sneak across the street and peek in the windows to see if I could witness any one actually rolling down the aisle. I never saw any rolling but there were lots of shakes and rattles and shouts of “AMEN!” that would reach a feverish pitch!

But they also offered some of the best gospel music and would occasionally host the old time gospel groups on Sunday nights.

My aforementioned grandparents were visiting with us one summer when I found a flyer advertising a gospel group that would be appearing at the church across the street.

For reasons I can’t remember, it was only my Grandfather and me that would be going to church that night to listen to the gospel music.

My grandfather was a man of few words, I suppose by today’s standards he would be considered a little stern. He was probably not much older than I am now and in retrospect, it gives me pause to realize this.

Grandpa, by no means scared me, however I was a bit intimidated by him and I remember thinking I sure hope I can keep the conversation going if it’s going to be just him and me at the gospel concert.

We made our way across the street to church and took our seats. I knew church was a place to be respectful and quiet and I conducted myself in just that manner for my Grandpa.

Soon some of the most exciting and wonderful music filled the sanctuary and I was spellbound. It was a wonderful live show and I was having such a great time, I almost forgot about my grandfather.

When I looked over at him, this usually quiet and stern man had a huge smile on his face and at the same time, I saw his toes tapping the floor and his hand tapping his knee. It was a great image to remember and I conjure it up every time I think of him.

Our house was always filled with some kind of music and gospel was part of it. I still love it and have many gospel selections in my own music library and listen to them often and when I do, the time is usually accompanied with thoughts of my grandfather and the little “holy-roller” church across the street.

I have one last important thought as I end these fond memories...

As I drive down the road, George Jones is singing “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and as soon as he begins to sing the old favorite, I immediately begin to wonder if Mr. Jones, at the end of his life, looked over Jordan and perhaps spotted a band of Angels comin’ for to carry him home.

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Comments » 8

woods311 writes:

Thank you 2kees, for one of the few entertaining stories that are worth paying the subscription to read.

Sherri writes:

Did you hear his song on the CMAs a week or so ago? I think Alan Jackson and George Strait sang it. Funny, I just played "The Old Rugged Cross" for Mom on the piano a while back, and she talked about Grandma too. I do remember Grandpa could surprise you -- you would think he was so stern, then all of a sudden he would tease you and start laughing. And I remember going to the church across the street for vacation Bible school sometimes -- man, that was a long time ago, wasn't it? Nice article!

keekee writes:

in response to woods311:

Thank you 2kees, for one of the few entertaining stories that are worth paying the subscription to read.

Woods! Karma man! Where ya been, my friend? So glad to see you on these pages, It's wonderful to turn on the computer to pleasantness!

Thank you for your kind words, and don’t be a stranger!

keekee writes:

in response to Sherri:

Did you hear his song on the CMAs a week or so ago? I think Alan Jackson and George Strait sang it. Funny, I just played "The Old Rugged Cross" for Mom on the piano a while back, and she talked about Grandma too. I do remember Grandpa could surprise you -- you would think he was so stern, then all of a sudden he would tease you and start laughing. And I remember going to the church across the street for vacation Bible school sometimes -- man, that was a long time ago, wasn't it? Nice article!

Hi Sherri!

Yes, a long, long time ago. Good times.

No, I didn’t hear them do the song, but I heard ABOUT it! I should look it up on Youtube.

Yeah, remember the dinner Grace from Grandpa? After a lengthy “thank you, Lord for thy bounty and all that you have provided…a few praise the Lords in all His might, followed by a hearty AMEN! Then before you could say “pass the potatoes” he would interject, “Now eat every potato and pea on your plate!”

I was 10 or 12 before I realized he was kidding. Phil had to explain it to me, “Geez Tara” he would say. “Pee on your plate! Pee on your plate!”

“OH YEAH, NOW I GET IT! HA HA HA HA HA!!!” "Oh wait, that’s gross, ooooooh!”

miamia writes:

Such a nice story KeeKee; I really enjoyed reading it...thanks much!

My family wasn't very musical except for the oldest that played the accordion years ago. My father was so proud that he made him play for anyone who came near the house.

I tried to get out of a General Language class once to play the Cello but the instructor sent me back after only hearing me sing do ra me fa sol la de do.

But though not religious, I've always loved holy roller type church music. If I had to go to any church, that's my choice.

Thanks for sharing!

keekee writes:

in response to miamia:

Such a nice story KeeKee; I really enjoyed reading it...thanks much!

My family wasn't very musical except for the oldest that played the accordion years ago. My father was so proud that he made him play for anyone who came near the house.

I tried to get out of a General Language class once to play the Cello but the instructor sent me back after only hearing me sing do ra me fa sol la de do.

But though not religious, I've always loved holy roller type church music. If I had to go to any church, that's my choice.

Thanks for sharing!

Hi miamia,

Good to see you and thanks for your nice review!

I don’t know how “musical” I am, but I sure like all kinds of it. I really can’t think of any genre that I don’t like and enjoy.

Glad you stopped by this neck of the woods, I’m trying to stay away from the letters and whatnot, it’s just to acrimonious. It makes me angry and sad so for my own well being, it’s best just to stay away! LOL!

Thanks again, my friend.

anicou writes:

It is so refreshing to come to your blog Tara.
I learn to appreciate country music and George Jones was one of my favorite with Johnny Cash.
George Jones was probably considered to be the best country western singer.
We couldn't never get tired to listen his great songs like the one "He stop loving her today" which is one of his more popular one.
AH! Nostalgia of the good old time.

keekee writes:

in response to anicou:

It is so refreshing to come to your blog Tara.
I learn to appreciate country music and George Jones was one of my favorite with Johnny Cash.
George Jones was probably considered to be the best country western singer.
We couldn't never get tired to listen his great songs like the one "He stop loving her today" which is one of his more popular one.
AH! Nostalgia of the good old time.

Hi anicou, glad you stopped by! Good to see the old gang again!

I sure hope you and yours have a great Thanksgiving! Don’t be a stranger!

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Always appreciated.

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