Cold Hard Truth: George Jones

Article excerpt

EVER SINCE ADAM blamed Eve when he was caught with his mouth full of the forbidden fruit, it has been part of the human condition to deflect blame to someone other than us when things go awry. Be it an individual family member or coworker, a group of people of the government, God or the devil, all are common targets for this passing off of responsibility.

Far rarer is the person who looks you square in the eye and says "nobody's fault but mine." That is what is so refreshing about veteran country artist George Jones' comeback album "Cold Hard Truth." It is transfixing, even somewhat chilling, when one considers his personal circumstances.

The 68-year-old Jones reached his commercial heyday 20 years ago with the record-breaking 1980 chart-topper, He Stopped Loving Her Today, but he has been topping the charts since 1959. He has enjoyed more charted singles than any other artist in any genre, 158 in all.

However, Jones was a tortured soul while on tour. His long-time problems with alcohol got even worse once he was smitten with other drugs in the `70s. He hit bottom in the early `80s, cleaned up, and has been an elder statesman of country music during the recent years of relative tranquility in his life.

Or so we thought. In March this year, he totalled his sport utility vehicle, and news hit that he had a belly full of vodka at the time. His recuperation has been slow. All of this makes Cold Hard Truth, recorded early this year, all the more uncanny. Unabashedly autobiographical, it sees Jones come face to face with his demons.

The opening track and leadoff single Choices, for instance, sees Jones clearly address his love of alcohol from an early age. He then sings with resignation with that unmistakable vocal: "I guess I'm paying / For the things that I have done/If I could go back / Oh Lord knows I'd run / But I'm still losing / This game of life I play / Living and dying with the choices I made. …