A list of the top George Jones songs reads like a list of the greatest songs in all of country music.
When Jones was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992, Reba McEntire introduced the legend by saying, "There are many ways to describe country music, but I can do it in just two words: 'George Jones.'"
From 1964's "The Race Is On" to 1980's "He Stopped Loving Her Today" and the triumphant comeback of 1999's "Choices," the Possum's legendary career spanned decades and inspired generations. Jones is widely understood to be one of the greatest country singers of all time, and his death in 2013 left a hole in country music that will never be filled.
"I Don't Need Your Rockin’ Chair"From ‘Walls Can Fall’ (1992)
Many fans consider "I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair" to be George Jones’ anthem. Released at the height of the "young country" movement in 1992, Jones found a song that got airplay on few stations, but yet became a CMA winner and a smash hit with fans. Featuring appearances by Vince Gill, Mark Chesnutt, Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt, Joe Diffie, Alan Jackson, Pam Tillis, T. Graham Brown, Patty Loveless and Clint Black, the song was a reminder of how Jones influenced so many artists and how much he was still loved and appreciated.
"Bartender’s Blues"From ‘Bartender’s Blues’ (1978)
With his highly publicized battles with alcohol, one might think that George Jones wrote the whiskey-soaked lyrics of this song. However, it was penned by the legendary soft rock singer-songwriter James Taylor, who also appeared on the record. "Bartender’s Blues" peaked at No. 3 in 1978 and became a jukebox staple in every honky-tonk in America. The sad country waltz is the quintessential George Jones classic, earning a spot on our list of the Top 10 George Jones songs.
"I Always Get Lucky With You"From ‘Shine On’ (1983)
Merle Haggard and George Jones hit the charts in 1982 with "Yesterday’s Wine" and "C.C. Waterback." After their success, producer Billy Sherrill found a song co-written and recorded by Haggard that he thought would be a perfect fit for Jones. Legend has it that Sherrill didn’t tell Jones who wrote "I Always Get Lucky With You," as he and Haggard were not speaking because of a falling-out that they had had. In the end, the legends made up and Jones hit No. 1 with a Haggard song. The two would later pair for a 2006 album titled Kickin’ Out the Footlights.
"The Grand Tour"From 'The Grand Tour' (1974)
"The Grand Tour" was a fitting story for George Jones to tell in 1974. Ironically, the song about touring and a once happy home ruined by divorce was telling a story close to what George Jones and Tammy Wynette were going through at the time. In an even stranger twist of irony, the song was co-written by Tammy Wynette’s future husband, George Richey. The opening line, "Step right up, come on in…" was always greeted by thunderous applause at live concerts, and there's no doubt it's one of the top George Jones songs.
"The Race Is On"From ‘The Race Is On’ (1964)
"The Race Is On" came along nine years into George Jones’ career. At the time, his catalog of hits already included "Why Baby Why," "White Lightning," "Tender Years," "She Thinks I Still Care" and "The Window Up Above." Even if his early string of hits had ended a decade into his career, Jones would still have made an imprint in country music. However, it was just the beginning of the more than 165 records that would hit the Billboard Country singles chart. The song was later revived as a Top 5 hit by Sawyer Brown in 1989.
"Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes"From ‘Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes’ (1985)
George Jones was always one of country music’s greatest links to the past. In "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes," he reminded us that he was a fan of the music that he sings, paying tribute to his heroes like Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell, while honoring his peers like Johnny Cash and Conway Twitty. This song was one of the most moving moments of a live George Jones show. A video played behind him while showing pictures of these long lost legends and pictures of the next generation of legends, like Alan Jackson and Kenny Chesney. Any passionate fan of country music completely understands why this song is a must on our list of the Top 10 George Jones songs.
"The One I Loved Back Then (the Corvette Song)"From ‘Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes’ (1985)
It seems like more people know this song as "Hotter Than a Two Dollar Pistol" rather than the actual title, "The One I Loved Back Then." Powered by foot-stomping fiddles, a comical story of a man’s lust for a car and Jones’ unforgettable low notes, this song is a surefire winner with any country music fan. The hit cruised up the charts to No. 3, where it stayed for two weeks and ultimately became one of the top George Jones songs of his career.
"Golden Ring"From ‘Golden Ring’ (1976)
Ironically, George Jones and Tammy Wynette scored a hit with this breakup song one year after their divorce. George and Tammy paired up for a series of hits during their six-year marriage that reflected their own life, including "We’re Gonna Hold On" and "Take Me." Even more impressive songs like "Two Story House" and "Near You" were also hit duets after their divorce. In 1995, the Hall of Fame duo would have the chance to record and tour one more time together before Wynette’s passing on a project called One. "Golden Ring" captures a moment in country music history.
"Choices"From ‘Cold Hard Truth’ (1999)
"Choices" was a story that could have been told by anyone. However, when it’s told by George Jones, you listen close, as he's a man who humbly admits to the mistakes he’s made in life. As a younger listener, you feel like you’re getting some priceless words of wisdom. As an older listener, you simply relate to the good and bad choices you’ve made in life. Although not a radio hit, the song earned a Grammy and represents the later period of the legend, who worked right up until his death. "Choices" is a must have on our list of the Top 10 George Jones songs.
"He Stopped Loving Her Today"From ‘I Am What I Am’ (1980)
George Jones singing "He Stopped Loving Her Today" is a milestone moment in country music history. Many polls have been conducted and countless artists have cited this as the best country song of all time. It’s no surprise, then, that we also place this song at No. 1 on our list of the Top 10 George Jones songs. The morbid story of a man who has to die to finally stop loving his ex was not a favorite of Jones at first. It’s legend that he actually told producer Billy Sherrill that he didn’t think anybody would want to buy such a sad story. Of course, the Possum quickly changed his feelings for the song when it hit No. 1, earned a Grammy, ACM and CMA Award.