George Jones took every setback life threw at him and turned it into music.

I grew up a huge fan of George Jones. I was familiar with the legends, the hard-luck stories, the accounts of missed gigs and drunken riding-mower notoriety. I was mesmerized by his voice, like almost anyone with the ability to hear. So I was ecstatic when I got to open shows for him a few times in West Virginia, as a young performer. I remember one gig in particular: Aug. 22, 1993, in Parkersburg, W.Va. It stands out because it was my last show as a resident of that state.

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