Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Grand Tour by Rich Kienzle

Posted by Rebecca Brendel

Reviewed by: Jim Patrick

What I Read: The Grand Tour: the Life and Music of George Jones by Rich Kienzle

Find It @YCLD: Here!

What It's About: When George Jones died in 2013 at the age of 81, he was widely acclaimed as the greatest country music singer ever.  More importantly, in his later years he had finally conquered most of his personal demons and addictions with the loving support of his wife Nancy Sepulvado.  George Jones’ recovery did not come easily, however.  His life story is full of the pathos and melodrama of his greatest songs, and Rich Kienzle recounts these personal struggles in the context of Jones’ legendary musical career.  Alcoholism destroyed the first two marriages, while the infamous third marriage to singer Tammy Wynette had the added burdens of Jones’ cocaine habit and Wynette’s personal and physical problems.  Due to poor financial management—including several attempts at establishing country music theme parks—Jones faced financial ruin on numerous occasions.  At the darkest point in the late 1970s, Jones was living in his car and was unable to get concert bookings due to his “No Show Jones” reputation.  Astonishingly, he recorded his masterpiece, “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” during this period of his life.

What I Thought: I have read numerous articles and liner notes by Rich Kienzle, so I approached this book with an appreciation for the author’s expertise and critical acumen.  The temptation in writing a George Jones biography is to dwell on the well-known sordid and sensational episodes, such as the time he rode his lawn mower to the liquor store after his second wife took away his car keys.  Kienzle shares this story and other painful, unflattering ones, but he balances these with his masterful descriptions of George Jones’ music.  By tracing Jones’ long recording career with numerous record companies and producers, Kienzle does an admirable job of explaining why so many of Jones’ peers rank him as the greatest county singer.  Detailed explanations are given of specific songs, songwriters, session musicians, and duet partners.  These sections of the book were particularly enlightening to me—and they even prompted me to go back and give a fresh listen to the great music of George Jones.

Readalikes: He Stopped Loving Her Today : George Jones, Billy Sherrill, and the Pretty-much Totally True story of the Making of the Greatest Country Record of All Time by Jack Isenhour; Tammy Wynette: Tragic Country Queen by Jimmy McDonough

Or look this book up on NoveList!