From the King of country music, 32 A & B sides of Hardcore ’60s Honky Tonk
“Country music is like a religion to me!” George Jones once told liner notes author Holly George-Warren, and listening to this collection of the great singer’s United Artists singles from 1962-1966 will make a believer out of you. The diversity of material is astounding. You hear Jones master all the flavors of vintage country: lovelorn ballads, inspirational gospel, uptempo honky-tonk, humorous novelty numbers, old-timey murder ballads—even holiday and Western songs.
United Artists was the third home for George Jones’ output since his 1954 debut on the Starday label in his native Texas. His manager and producer Harold “Pappy” Daily signed him to United Artists (UA) following a stint at Mercury, where he scored his first #1 hit, “White Lightning,” in 1959, followed by 1961’s “Tender Years.” Most of the UA recordings transpired in Nashville, with Jones backed by Music City’s A-team: guitarist Grady Martin, bassist Bob Moore, drummer Buddy Harman, pianist Pig Robbins, and Hal Rugg on steel guitar, Tommy Jackson on fiddle, and Kelso Herston on electric 6-string bass. The Jordanaires provided the background choruses, part of the Nashville Sound that Jones adopted for his hardcore country.
Right out of the box at UA, Jones hit the jackpot again with his third chart-topper, “She Thinks I Still Care” backed with the gorgeous ballad, “Sometimes You Just Can’t Win,” also a hit. Both sides of the plaintive single pointed the way to the kind of material that in Jones’ hands would become his signature style, leading to such landmark recordings as 1980’s “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”
“She Thinks I Still Care” almost didn’t get cut, however. It was penned by Dickey Lee, the Texas songwriter that later that year had a #6 pop hit with Barry Mann and Larry Koblerhe’s “Patches.” Songwriter and producer Jack Clement, who’d left Memphis’ Sun Records behind to operate Gulf Coast Recording Studio in Beaumont, Texas, pitched it to Jones. But it wasn’t an easy sale for Clement, whose publishing company handled the song. George told him, “I don’t think I like it too much. It’s got too damn many ‘just becauses’ in it. Clement tweaked it, making it a bit more country, according to Bob Allen, who recounts the story in his 1984 Jones biography. “After [Clement] agreed to relinquish half the publishing royalties to George and the hard-bargaining Pappy Daily, George finally relented and recorded it,” writes Allen. Soon after its release, “She Thinks I Still Care” lodged at the top of Billboard’s C&W chart for six weeks. By year’s end, the smash had been chosen 1962’s “Favorite Country Music Single” by the nation’s DJs in Billboard’s annual poll.
She Thinks I Still Care Sometimes You Just Can’t Win Beacon In The Night He Made Me Free Open Pit Mine Geronimo He’s So Good To Me Magic Valley A Girl I Used To Know Big Fool Of The Year Not What I Had In Mind I Saw Me Lonely Christmas Call My Mom And Santa Claus (Twistin’ Santa Claus) You Comb Her Hair Ain’t It Funny What A Fool Will Do Your Heart Turned Left (And I Was On The Right) My Tears Are Overdue Something I Dreamed Where Does A Little Tear Come From The Race Is On She’s Lonesome Again Least Of All Brown To Blue Wrong Number The Old, Old House What’s Money I Get Lonely In A Hurry World’s Worst Lover I Can’t Change Overnight Best Guitar Picker A Good Old Fashioned Cry