George Jones sang about love like nobody else that I can recall. We may never hear songs like his again.
Johnny Cash was similar of course, but he’s gone, too. Theirs was the kind of artistry that made country music so powerful. In the tradition of the great Hank Williams, they spoke from their hearts to ours. It was the real thing. No sugar-coated fairy tales. No Hallmark rhyming couplets. Their songs were gritty, sometimes painful, always memorable.
They sang about love and heartbreak as so many regular folks know it. The highs and the lows, the huggin’ and the fightin’. And George lived it.
George and Tammy, boozin’ and brawlin’, splittin’ and gettin’ back together. For a time, they lived right here in Polk County, Florida, and their fights were legendary. But so was their love for one another. Despite George’s alcoholism, Tammy could be counted on to stand by her man – for six years, anyway.
Fed up with George’s carousing,Tammy filed for divorce in 1973, but thought better of it. Two years later, she filed again, this time for real.
They produced hit songs together for several years afterwards. Tammy died in 1998. She was 56 years old.
There are loving couples who live tranquil lives together apparently never exchanging a harsh word. Sandra’s parents were like that. When her mother got Alzheimer’s and had to go to a nursing home, her father would walk across the churchyard every day and sit with his lifelong love, holding hands, even when she couldn’t quite recognize him.
And, for all I know, that’s the kind of marriage George found with his fourth wife, Nancy Sepulvado. He credited her with rescuing him from drugs and alcohol.
But that’s not the world George sang about.
In that world, relationships were like a three-legged race, a push-you-pull-you kind of thing that drives the participants crazy at times. Sometimes, the lovers can work it out; they make allowances, and when they need to, they make amends.
Sometimes -like George and Tammy – they reach a point where they can’t work it out.
George knew both sides of the story, and he sure knew how to share it with us.