Nine Life Lessons We Learned From George Jones (1931-2013)

The country music world truly lost one of its biggest badasses today when the legendary George Jones passed away this morning at a Nashville, Tennessee hospital. He was 81 years old.

The Possum, as he was known to countless, leaves behind a towering legacy in country, a long and troubled life filled with wrecked marriages and lengthy history of substance alcoholism, and -- ultimately -- a voluminously exhaustive discography of glorious, heartbreak-laden music that such tumultuousnes inspired.

By the numbers alone, Jones was incomporable.

The man had more than 160 singles chart over the course of his 59-year career, dozens of which hit number one (including "She Thinks I Still Care," "He Stopped Loving Her Today," "Tender Years," and arguably his biggest song, "White Lightning"). He also recorded 62 studio albums, including his final disc Burn Your Playhouse Down in 2008.

Jones' gruff barritone added extra gravitas to his meandering tableaux of melancholy and lamentation and here one of the many hallmarks of his music. Notorious for his lifelong battles with the bottle (funny tidbit: he once rode a lawnmower to a bar when one former wife hid his car keys) and his stormy marriage with the equally famous country songstress Tammy Wynette, Jones was a true giant who influenced hundreds of crooners and pickers in country both past and present (as well as the likes of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Costello, and Pete Townsend) and was one of the true outlaws of the genre.

There will never be another like him.

In honor of the Possum's passing, here's a collection of his more poignant quotes from over the years and some of the life lessons that can be learned.

9. "Country fans need to support country music by buying albums and concert tickets for traditional artists or the music will just fade away. And that would be really sad."

8. "Maybe some folks are alcoholics and others are just voluntary drunks.... Maybe some have drinking problems, while others have problems enough to drink."

7. "Country music to me is heartfelt music that speaks to the common man. It is about real life stories with rather simple melodies that the average person can follow. Country music should speak directly and simply about the highs and lows of life. Something that anyone can relate to."

6. "Me and the bottle have always been friends, we've had a few old nasty fights but the bottle would always win, so when I go to answer that final curtain call, I can hear these words being whispered by all... Ol' George stopped drinking today."

5. "There are questions I'm still not wise enough to answer, just wise enough to no longer ask."

4. "I Lived to tell it All. ... I would have preferred peace in death over misery in life. So when people told me I was drinking myself to death, my first thought often was 'Pour another drink.'"

3. "Loneliness is lessened when you're lonely by choice."

2. "The story of the veterans should be told. That's our history. It was a global event that is worthy of our respect."

1. "Be real about what you do. Stay true to the voice inside you. Don't let the 'business' change what it is you love because the people, the fans, respond to what is heartfelt. They can always tell when a singer is faking it."

Take a look at some of the coverage we gave the man whenever he'd swing through our neck of the woods.

- Celebrating George Jones' Big Comeback - George Jones: A National Treasure - George Jones at Celebrity Theatre, 7/15/09

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.