Walking home tonight, I heard the greatest interview with George Jones, part of NPR's 50 Great Voices series. I'm ashamed to admit I didn't even know who George Jones was, but I was spellbound. He was charming and dynamic, his speech peppered with "y'alls" and "oh Lordys." His easy candences reminded me of the Oklahoma drawl of our neighbors back home in New Mexico. At the age 79, he still actively tours and played 90 concerts in the past year. It's fitting that one of his songs is called "I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair."
Country isn't my favorite genre, but as I listened to clips of Jones' singing, I could easily appreciate his artistry. A younger singer named Dierks Bentley (whom I admit I'd also not heard of) named U2 and George Jones as his two big influences and observed that Jones "digs into every lyric, every word."
The interview, conducted by Melissa Block at Jones' Tennessee home, noted his rocky past of alcohol and drug abuse, bankruptcy, broken marriages. Hearing him now, it sounds like he's found greater peace and stability but clearly maintains a driving passion for music.
Pieces like this are why I adore NPR. My enthusiasm is ironic because as a college student, I worked for a postdoc who played NPR in the lab, and I remember wishing she'd play music and wondering how anyone could listen to talking on the radio all day long. At some point in the last several years, my attitude flipped 180 degrees, and now I can't get enough Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Fresh Air, This American Life, Radiolab . . . . I have this incorrect perception that I'm essentially the same person as at age 18, but obviously something switched in my brain. I wonder if it was a matter of age or cognitive maturity or education. I dunno, but oh Lordy, I love NPR.
(photo by Ms Ladyred, on Flickr)