Saturday, April 27, 2013

Country legend George Jones was all that and more to my dad

Country music legend George Jones died Friday. Do you think there's a big old country music concert going on today just inside the Pearly Gates? If there is, I know one fan who is standing on the sidelines, eyes aglow, a big smile on his face. It would be my dad, a simple, quiet man who grew up in Amelia County, Virginia, who loved his country and bluegrass music.

My dad was all about country. I used to kid him about the bluegrass that played from the radio in the garage as he worked on a project. When country artists made stops in Richmond back in the 1960s and 70s, he would often be at their concerts.

Typical of the difference in generations, there were some distinctions in our tastes in music.

My dad was George Jones. I was John Denver.

Dad was Hank Williams. I was Billy Joel.

Dad was Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline. I was Carole King and Liza Minnelli.

Dad was the Statler Brothers, Conway Twitty, and Johnny Cash. I was Chicago, Barry Manilow, and James Taylor.

Dad was into the Fiddlers Conventions in Galax. I was into beach parties ... anywhere.

I was actually too young to appreciate many of the country artists that Dad liked and, after cancer took him from us in 1975, it was too late to enjoy those musicians with him.

In the years since then, my taste in music has expanded to include the country that he enjoyed, and that I have grown to love. I think he would approve that I have CDs of Toby Keith, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flats, and Staunton's hometown Statler Brothers.

But today it's all George Jones, and as I listened while he sang "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes," the realization was that most of the country singers Dad loved are now gone, perhaps having a jam session right now somewhere beyond the horizon. And on the sidelines listening and singing along would be that simple country boy whom I called "Dad."

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