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Don't stop the music let it play one more song
The same one that's played tonight for so long
My pockets are empty I spent my last dime
But I've just got to hear that song one more time

– George Jones, "Don't Stop the Music"

Chart-topping, hard living American country singer George Jones has died. He was 81.

The country star's life was lived publicly and in peaks and valleys — from writing one of the greatest country songs of all time to finding himself penniless and receiving financial support from fellow country singers including Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash.

Despite inconsistencies in his personal life, Jones penned some of the biggest hits in country music history, including 14 number one singles over his almost 60 years in the business.

Here, we look at several of the late singer's most essential songs.

Song: "We're Gonna Hold On"
Recorded: 1973

The first big hit Jones recorded with his then-wife Tammy Wynette, this pitch-shifting number features the duo's dynamic, juxtaposing harmonies.

Song: "Sometimes You Just Can't Win"
Recorded: 1962

The b-side to one of Jones' first #1 songs (1962's "She Thinks I Still Care") this is a prototypical classic country number. Written by Smokey Stover, the song oozes heartbreak, in the best possible way.

 

Song: "He Stopped Loving Her Today"
Recorded: 1980

Jones' signature song is also one that he wrestled with the most, from obsessing over a Kristofferson melody to taking over a year to record it. CBC Music's Rich Terfry provides a great overview of the story behind the song here

 

Song: "Yesterday's Wine"
Recorded: 1982

This number, written by Willie Nelson for his 1971 concept album of the same name, was recorded by Jones and his good friend Waylon Jennings over a decade later, and it went right to the top of the country charts. 

 

Song: "She Still Thinks I Care"
Recorded: 1962

This song, with its brutal chorus, was first recorded by Jones and spent 6 weeks atop the country charts.  

Song: "Have Mercy on Me"
Recorded: 1960

Like many country artists, Jones has roots in gospel music. Here is a rare, but great, early recording of Darrell Edwards' "Have Mercy on Me."

 

Song: "Honky Tonk Song" 
Recorded: 1996 

This song shows Jones' ability to laugh at his own troubles. It's written in references to a well-documented incident, in which Jones was found driving a riding lawnmower down a highway to his favourite watering hole. The song was written for the album, I Lived To Tell It All, which accompanied his autobiography.

Related:

CBC News: Country star George Jones dies at 81

Rear-view Mirror: George Jones' He Stopped Loving Her Today

Kris Kristofferson to the Louvin Brothers: When gospel meets country

New albums mark 10th anniversary of Waylon Jennings

Listen to CBC Music's Classic Country stream

 

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George Jones: the essential playlist

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