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From the Country Standard Time Archives

Jones shows why he's a legend

Indian Ranch, Webster, Mass., July 20, 1998

By Michael Sudhalter

WEBSTER, MASS. - "If you love country music, let me hear you say George Jones!" exclaimed Jones' guitar player DeWayne Phillips as he introduced the Possum Sunday.

The crowd's response to Phillips' statement set the tone for 70 minutes of country with classic ballads and fast paced drinking songs. Jones also spent a great deal of time interacting with the crowd and making wisecracks about everything from staying up until 3 in the morning, his age and his past drinking problems.

Even though Jones' sense of humor amused the crowd, the music was what the crowd of 2,500 loved the most.

Jones opened up with "High Tech Redneck."He couldn't have chosen a better opener given its catchiness and humor. Jones slowed down the pace by singing the ballads "In Your Arms" and "Honky-Tonk Angel." Jones' performance kept the crowd interested by playing ballad-fast song-ballad...almost automatically.

Although Jones played many of his greatest hits, he still sang a few recent songs including two from his new album. Both new songs said a lot about the current state of Jones' recording career.

Jones, who has not received much radio play on mainstream country radio, sang "Smack Dab in the Middle of Love," sounding as though he is trying to comply with current radio trends. The song does have some similarities to old Jones hits like "The Race Is On" and "The Corvette Song."

The tone seems strange because Jones, without naming names, knocked the current state of country music to some degree.

The other new song, "Wild Irish Rose," is a classic Jones ballad, covering the treatment of American war veterans after the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

"I think my old age is getting the best of my throat" said Jones after a short break in which outstanding fiddle player Jim Buchanan soloed on "Fire on the Mountain."

One would beg to differ after hearing ol' Possum sing his biggest hit "He Stopped Loving Her Today." He sounded just as good singing it as when he first recorded one of the greatest country songs of all time.

Following it by a medley of some of his other greatest hits ("The Window Up Above,""The Grand Tour," "She Thinks I Still Care" and an extremely short version of "White Lightning"), the only problem was the crowd wanted to hear entire songs rather than a verse here, verse there.

But Jones is what country music is all about. Attending his concert shows fans young and old alike the music should be the biggest part of the show, not who has the most lights, biggest stage, or who looks best in Wranglers and a Stetson.