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Sunday, December 18, 2011

"The Grand Tour"

George Jones - The Grand Tour (1974)

Damn, what a downer.

This track, produced by a Country Music Hall of Fame member, and written by three big names in country music; is often considered one of the greatest performances in the history of country music. George Jones was a hard drinkin' womanizing so-and-so when this song came out, and less than a year away from his divorce from Tammy Wynette (who fours years later would marry one of the big name songwriters). He is known for putting so much feeling into his performances that audiences assumed that every song was autobiographical. This one wasn't, but it's hard to listen to twice.

Pedal steel guitar, acoustic guitar, simple slow walking bass, and basic piano accompaniment start this song off; and well in the "country" wheelhouse. By the end you realize that there is also a backing choir and a good sized string section. The producer was known in the later 70s for creating crossover hits for country artists, and this has a lot of the hallmarks of an almost "adult contemporary" style song.

Lyrically the song starts sad. A man who is broken, and tries to be upbeat, invites the listener into the house that "once was home sweet home". It gets sadder as George walks around the house and points out furniture that holds memories of his wife who is "gone forever" though she used to "whisper I love you". By the end we are heartbroken to find that this shell of a man has walked us into the nursery; only to find that his wife left him and took nothing "but our baby and my heart". No further explanation is given, we are left to show ourselves out.

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