He’s just a simple man...
with a heart full of music.
By: Gina Kay Singerhouse
(This article was printed in the 10th Annual Memorial Day Honors Special issue of Strictly Country Magazine, 2013.)
It’s early, real early in the morning. So early, that the birds have not awoken to sing their songs. It’s dark and he can not see his hand in front of him. He finds himself walking down a road. The road is not paved in gold like everyone thought it would be. In fact, it’s not paved at all. The road consists of stones. Although he is barefoot, he can not feel the sharp stones in which he walks upon.
He keeps walking. He knows that the road must lead to some where, but where? In his heart, he knows he must keep walking. It seems like he has walked a mile, but it can’t be. It’s only been a few minutes.
As he keeps walking, the darkness begins to fade. The light gradually turns from black to dark purple and on to what can only be described as the early morning light he has seen so many times at his home in Texas, where he grew up.
He can now see the road that he has been walking on. In front of him the road is endless. The sides are covered with huge Oak trees. They must be nearly 200 years old, he thinks to himself.
He pauses, turns around and is surrounded by the darkness once again.
“I would do that if I were you,” says a voice.
He turns back around to face the road, the light and the trees. He searches for the person who spoke to him. Up to his right, sitting under one of the old Oak trees is a man. The man gets up and walks towards him.
The man is dressed in worn overalls and a flannel shirt. He is chewing on a long piece of wheat. As the man walks towards him, he notices the man does not have any shoes on either.
“What do you mean?” he asks.
“You don’t want to go back that away,” states the man.
“Why not?” he asks.
“Back there,” states the man as he points behind him. “Well that’s hell son.” The man points in the opposite direction. “That way you’re walking - well it’s heaven.”
He looks both ways twice before looking at the man. “I don’t understand.”
“What don’t you understand?” asks the man. “You are on the road that leads to heaven.”
“But I have done so many bad things in my life. I can’t be going to heaven, can I?”
“Everyone has transgressions. Some people have more than others.” the man replies. “What’s more important is how you reacted to those transgressions in your life.”
He bows his head and looks at his bare feet as he says “I have had too many transgressions. I don’t think the good Lord will wash them away.”
“You wouldn’t be here if our Father believed in that.”
“Who are you and how do you know what the good Lord believes?”
“George Jones, I am St. Peter and God sent me to show you the way.”
George looks up with a questioning look upon his face. St. Peter smiles.
“Come with me George and I’ll answer all of your questions...
“Do you remember when you were nine?” asks St. Peter.
“Yes, my parents bought me my first guitar.”
“Stay here,” states St. Peter as he walks to the side of the road. Leaning against a tree is George’s first guitar.
“Well, I’ll be...” George says as St. Peter hands him the guitar. “I played many churches and socials with this old guitar.”
“You never thought that you could earn a living, in music did you?”
“No. I never thought my career would have lasted this long. It’s been nearly sixty years.”
“It wasn’t all that bad. You did start performing in churches and socials.”
“Yeah. But then I joined the Marines and picked up a lot of bad habits. I served in Korea and even did some things I’m not proud of.”
“A lot of men did, especially in war. War is man fighting against man. Sure God sometimes steps in and makes sure evil never wins. But war is as close to hell that one man can get to without going there.” tells St. Peter as the two men continue to walk towards the light.
“You can say that again.”
“Do you remember the first song you ever recorded?”
“Oh yeah, that was ‘There Ain’t No Money In This Deal.’ I really believed that you know?”
“I think every good entertainer believes that. But that song was the first of many, many songs for you.”
“Yeah, I had a few...”
“Those songs inspired so many other entertainers.”
“Yeah, but they also got me into a lot of trouble.”
“Success can do that to a man.”
“No Show Jones, they called me...” says George as he shakes his head no.
“Everyone goes through a dark time in their lives. But, you are proof that good over powers evil.”
“How’s that? I was a drinker of strong drinks, a womanizer, I’m sure I cheated in one way or another...”
“You asked for God’s help and he cast you out of the darkness into the light. He gave you Nancy, your wife.”
“I believe Nancy saved me and kept me on the straight and narrow.”
“She did. She was God’s gift to you in your time of need.”
“What about her time of need? Who will save her?”
“George you have made many good friends who will help her through her time of need. There is no need to worry about her. In time, you will see her again.”
The two men continue to walk, as George relives many memories with Nancy in his minds eye.
“I haven’t done enough to earn a place in heaven.” states George.
“Sure you have!”
“Did you know a little boy by the name of Billy Gilman once told a reporter that you waited outside a recording studio just to encourage him?”
“No. He said that?”
“Well, bless that kid. I had heard that he was in that studio and just wanted him to know he had someone who believed in him... You know the music business is a rough one.”
“Yes, it is. But, don’t you see? You took time out of your busy schedule to encourage a new entertainer, who needed it. In fact, if memory serves me - you encouraged many artists. You even took many under your wing. Does Mark Chesnutt ring a bell?”
“Yes.” states George as he thinks about all the entertainers he has toured and recorded with.
“What about Tammy Wynette, Ray Charles, Garth Brooks and even your own daughter Georgette?”
“Yeah. I’m proud of all those kids and I want them to succeed and carry on the great tradition of country music.”
“And what is the great tradition of country music?”
“Well, it’s family, respect for your fellow man, love and... and... God.”
“That’s right George. The pressures of fame and society may have got you into trouble - but you over came those pressures. You showed them by example, of what a man truly should be. Just look at all the people who showed their support at your funeral.”
“Oh that’s just people who wanted to say they were there...”
“No George, you were the inspiration of so many. Many who could not make it to your funeral. Many who remember you through your music and your actions. For many generations to come, your music and actions will inspire.”
“But I’m just a simple man with a heart full of songs...” George pauses then states, “You know, I guess your right.”
“I know I am, God told me. Look, we better get moving... there are many people who are waiting for your arrival.”
“Don’t mention it. By the way - your song ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today’ - it’s wrong.”
“What’s wrong about it?”
“Did you stop loving Nancy today?”
“Love is never ending. One day God will call her and you will be together again. Welcome to heaven my friend...”
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