The Grand Tour: The Life and Music of George Jones

GrandTourCoverConsidered one of the greatest country songs of all time, “He Stopped Loving Her Today” would become George Jones’s (1931–2013) signature song and come to encapsulate his persona: a deeply tragic figure with a love and exuberance for life. Kienzle (Southwest Shuffle: Pioneers of Honky-Tonk, Western Swing, and Country Jazz) tells the story of this poverty-stricken, East Texas-raised crooner, whose rise to the top of the country music charts was followed by an equally precipitous descent into drugs, alcohol, and depression. Written chronologically, the biography follows Jones from his upbringing in Beaumont through his tumultuous marriage with singer Tammy Wynette and to the final decade of his life. As a biographer, Kienzle underscores the intersections between Jones’s professional and personal life, within the context of his abusive childhood. Through this lens, Jones’s discography of joyful and melancholy songs often reflected, obscured, criticized, and contradicted the personal experience of its singer. VERDICT Juxtaposed with Jones’s 1996 autobiography, I Lived To Tell It All, and last year’s account by his longtime songwriting collaborators Charlene & Peanutt Montgomery, The Legend of George Jones: His Life and Death, this latest addition is perhaps the most honest portrayal of one of music’s most controversial figures.