Sadly, I have only seen her live (despite so many opportunities to do so previously) at a tiny street festival in Lincoln Park in Chicago. It was a little over two years ago now, and she opened for Foxygen. The crowd at her set was criminally tiny, and oddly enough, I recognized a friend from Nashville that was in her band and got to say hello. It is a very small world.
“Our Hearts Are Wrong” is probably her most popular song, and for a good reason. Jessica Lea Mayfield’s voice has a smokey and comforting quality to it. The style reminds me of country singers from 70s and earlier. The lyrics of the song itself create a lot of tension that is backed up by confidence and certainty.
There is nothing like a good drunk story, and luckily, there is no shortage of drunk celebrities to provide those.
Enter the rich-voiced country singer and songwriter George Jones. Known as ‘The Possum’ because of his beady little eyes and long nose, he was so devastated by alcoholism, he was in and out of medical treatment the majority of his life. Additionally, he was often so sauced he wouldn’t show up for concerts which earned him the name: ‘No Show Jones’.
One of my favorite George Jones song is “The Race is On”. Here is an early live performance where The Possum is very obviously hammered.
While we have no shortage of vids of drunken celebrities now, pre-Internet and smart device society made it more difficult to have access to these exploits. However, that are plenty of tales of The Possum’s drunkness as well as videos like the one I posted below.
While The Possum’s exploits are entertaining, reading about the length of his alcoholism and the issues it caused for himself and those who worked with him and loved him is heartbreaking.
Here is a short list of more infamous drunken or drugged up George Jones incidents:
Drove a lawnmower to the liquor store (more than once) after his car keys were taken away.
Flipped over a table at after future wife Tammy Wynette‘s second husband called Tammy Wynette a “son of a bitch” (I actually don’t know if he was drunk during this, but it’s a pretty crazy story, regardless).
Checked into a neurological unit of a hospital to get treatment for drinking problems
Was committed to a psych unit (in a strait jacket) more than once delusions caused by alcoholism
Allegedly shot at Tammy Wynette with a shot gun and beat her (alleged by Tammy Wynette)
Shot at a friend and almost hit them while drunk
Started doing cocaine
Missed shows; garnered lawsuits
Didn’t pay child support
Was homeless and living in a car
Lost weight to the point he was under 100 lbs.
Wrecked his finances
Wrecked multiple vehicles
His daughter got kidnapped because of his issues with drug dealers
In 1999, had his last drunken car crash and pleaded guilty to drunk driving charges. If you’re not counting at home…that’s at least roughly 34 years of being an alcoholic.
After that list, Mississippi girl Tammy Wynette is going to get her own post on this blog because she seems like the kind of person who makes me want to believe in heaven. She was down here as an Earth Angel, cleaning up some stuff and doing her own suffering, before God called her up, rather early at age 55, to the big leagues.
So after all of this, I feel like I would dislike George Jones. However, he appeared to be a very troubled man with many vices that needed serious help and at times, couldn’t be helped. Luckily, he appears to have cleaned up for over a decade before passing away in at the surprisingly ripe old age 81 in April 2013.
There is plenty more I could write about the man as he is a legend and, from what it appears, despite being afflicted with a terrible disease, had plenty of good intentions and a good heart. By all accounts, I’ve read he was sheepish and self-deprecating when it came to recounting his issues with drugs and alcohol. He certainly left us with some entertaining stories as well as cautionary tales (why not both?).
Where do I begin? I first fell in love with Nashville about 15 years ago when my brother moved there. It was only 2.5 hours from my hometown, but when I visited for the first few times, it was, for me, a revelation. It became the first place I really fell in love with live music which opened the door to a broader world of music in general.
Any good love story has conflict, right? As those of you who know me are aware, I used to have really terrible commitment issues. When I finally moved to Nashville in 2013, I fell very quickly out of love with the city. It was, and is, going through a period of really rapid gentrification. I was going through some pretty life changing personal things. Like any worthwhile love I’ve had, I couldn’t take it and was gone in a year and a half (haha sorry, sorry, couldn’t help myself!).
Only recently have I made some peace and been back for some really wonderful times. Some of my memories have been removed by gentrification, and unfortunately, some more remain in photos but were physically taken by the tornado. I’m still in disbelief, but I’m thankful all of my family and friends are accounted for.
I was last in Nashville 8 days ago. I got to go to and show off some of my favorite places that were still there. I only regret not going to some that may very well not be there when I go again. 3 Crow. Drifters. Red Bicycle. And so on.
I hope all of the local businesses return and people can recover or rebuild. I hope Tall and Skinnies don’t replace the historic architecture. And I hope a bunch of people from New York don’t move in.
Most of all, I hope all of the missing make it home, and for those who don’t, I hope their families find peace.