I ve been very lucky to walk through this world with my George and on that walk we ve heard few sounds more lovely than the voice of George Jones former First Lady Laura Bush said during the three hour service that was broadcast around the world by satellite and over the Internet. His music is a beautiful gift to the world and it will always bring back beautiful memories.
CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer who like Jones was born and grew up in Texas said God made just one like him but aren t we glad he did
RELATED George Jones country music icon dies at 81
Jones died April 26 in Nashville at age 81. Musicians who performed during the service at the Grand Ole Opry where Jones had been a member since 1956 included Alan Jackson Vince Gill and Patty Loveless Charlie Daniels Kid Rock Ronnie Milsap Randy Travis Travis Tritt the Oak Ridge Boys Wynonna Judd and Brad Paisley.
Other speakers included Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee Kenny Chesney Barbara Mandrell Grand Ole Opry Vice President and General Manager Pete Fisher and Jones pastor the Rev. Mike Wilson.
We have lost a national treasure Judd said before she sang the gospel song How Great Thou Art.
Many of the participants referenced Jones 1985 hit in which he saluted the country greats who had preceded him Who s Gonna Fill Their Shoes.
It s my belief they don t make those shoes anymore Gill said before starting a duet with Loveless on Go Rest High on That Mountain which both vocalists delivered through tears.
Tritt sang Kris Kristofferson s Why Me which asks Why me Lord What have I ever done to deserve even one of the pleasures I ve known
Leading into the song Tritt recalled learning of the death of Jones most celebrated duet partner and his former wife Tammy Wynette while in Spain on tour in 1998 with Willie Nelson and Kristofferson. He remembered telling Kristofferson he wouldn t have believed that Jones for all his notorious bouts with alcohol and drugs would have outlived her and Kristofferson s reply Without Nancy he wouldn t have.
That was a reference to Jones third wife Nancy Sepulvado who is widely credited with inspiring him to get sober during the last three decades of his life. She sat in the front row of the Opry House near the casket heaped with white roses with other family members on her left and Bush on her right.
Before his performance Paisley said I know there are a lot of TV networks covering this today and there are probably a lot of young people watching and you must be thinking Wow they re really making a ruckus about this guy. I would encourage you if you don't know about him go find him now. Go buy his records and see what all this ruckus is about because it s worth it.
I just have to say Paisley said of the redemptive facet of the last third of Jones life that he s an inspirational story for all of us. If that man can live to 81 years old we can all beat the things that bring us down.Also Photo Vince Gill and Patty Loveless Photos George Jones Career in Pictures George Jones hard living country music star dies at 81 The music community reacts to the death of George Jones George Jones dies Listen to his one of a kind duet with Johnny Cash Photos Notable deaths of 2013 See more stories
George Jones Career in Photos
Songs performed were a mix of numbers associated with Jones among them Milsap s version of When the Grass Grows Over Me and gospel numbers that were favorites of his including Travis performance of Amazing Grace Daniels rendition of Jesus Is Coming Soon and Judd s delivery of How Great Thou Art.
Jackson got the closing number hinting at Jones pinched vocal style as he sang He Stopped Loving Her Today his signature weeper about a man who doesn t let go of his love for an ex until his dying day.
The service was carried live by several Tennessee television and radio stations and broadcast on CMT GAC RFD and FamilyNet cable channels and webcast over the Opry s website.
Jones Haggard Hasslin' and harmony
George Jones dies at 81 country music icon
George Jones dies Listen to his one of a kind duet with Johnny Cash
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