George Jones

Julie Seabaugh

The show started at 8, but it took seven songs from The Jones Boys (and their sequined, wooden backup singer) before the Possum himself arrived onstage. Sporting a short-sleeved white button-down, those trademark dark glasses and an impeccable white coif, Jones kicked off with “Why Baby Why” and “Once You’ve Had the Best” before warning the crowd, “You keep that enthusiasm up and we’re liable to keep this up until 2 or 3 in the mornin’!”

Nearly 80 years old, Jones had a slight stoop and the hinting of a Possum Paunch, and though he didn’t play guitar (he broke his wrist six months ago) and his voice was a bit raspy, it could still reach the sly baritone dips of “The Race Is On” and “White Lightning.” He paid Merle Haggard tribute with “I Always Get Lucky With You,” and “The Way I Am,” but it was his own “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?” “50,000 Names” and “I’m a One-Woman Man”—accompanied by heartstring-tugging projections featuring the country greats, casualties of war and his wife Nancy, respectively—that earned him multiple standing ovations. Nancy and protégé Jason Byrd made spotlight cameos, as did one Grandma Marion, a fan celebrating her 77th birthday that evening by downing two beers and swaying to “Yesterday’s Wine.”

Between three instrumental breaks and plenty of sips from his ever-present George Jones’ White Lightning Tennessee Sipping Water, he charged through “A Picture of Me Without You” and a five-song medley including “The Window Up Above,” “Walk Through This World with Me” and “She Thinks I Still Care” before bringing it home with the sniffle-inducing “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and “Golden Ring.” “Celebrating 50 years of the legendary George Jones” was a phrase utilized more than once throughout the evening, and he’s clearly hard-earned both the adjective and the acknowledgement. Jones spoke of addictions, crashes and redemption, and though he’s grown visibly weary with age, one’s inclined to believe him when he closes with a defiantly, ever-so-slightly rejiggered “I Don’t Need Your Rocking Chair.”

George Jones ***

Texas Station, October 19

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