George Jones died today. He was 81 years old, which means he was really popular before I was even born. Yet he and so many of the other “old” country singers shaped my heart and soul to what it is today. His voice spoke to me in a way that surprised my parents who were true 70s music people. I don’t remember the first country song I heard, or how old I was at the time. Mom says she remember flipping through stations in the car and pausing on a country station and my instant fascination with the music coming out of those old factory speakers. I love the stories the music tells, of love, of life and all its ups and downs. I especially loved the old guys, the old music that so much of my generation(and my parents really) shunned. Waylon, Willie, George, Johnny, Conway, Kris, Don and Hank. They all lived hard lives, drank too much, did too much, lived too much, all larger than life. Yet their music, their voices were the chorus to my life, speaking to the hurt, the tears and the hardness in my own life. They were my connection when I left home, for in the 4 minutes while they were singing I was home driving across the prairie with the setting over the dusty red fields. I never got the chance to know my Father’s father, he passed away just before my dad turned 16. As I reached my teens I found myself very curios about this family I never got to know, and yet felt so very close to. Dad said that Grandpa and I would have really bonded over the music I loved, apparently he loved it too. So listening to the “old” guys made me feel closer to my past, to my family and to my roots. Today part of that connection passed away to join Grandpa, guess it’s only fair that Grandpa gets to hear him live now. So many of those connections have joined Grandpa now, Johnny, Waylon, Conway, Don, Hank and now George. I really don’t know what I’m going to do when Willie goes, I had the great fortune to see him in concert for my 18th birthday present. I guess I will leave you with some links to my favorite George songs, while I go cry a bit for a man I never got to meet who helped shape the women I am today.