White Lightning and Other Favorites
|White Lightning and Other Favorites|
|Studio album by George Jones|
|George Jones chronology|
Composition and recording
Jones wrote or co-wrote nearly all the songs on White Lightnin' and Other Favorites, including "Life To Go", which would rise to number two on the charts for Stonewall Jackson. The song was written after Jones played the Old Time Fiddlers Convention in Crockett, Texas with Jackson and Ernest Tubb. There was a prison there and, while walking around the grounds with Jackson, they began chatting with an inmate. At one point they asked him how much time he had left to serve, to which the prisoner replied, "I been here for eighteen years and still got life to go." "His remark chilled me to the bone," Jones wrote in his 1996 autobiography I Lived To Tell It All. "I had hated the prison, but I knew I'd be leaving. That man hated it more and knew he'd never leave. I wanted to get that prison out of my mind. But I couldn't."
"White Lightnin'" was written by J.P. Richardson, better known as rockabilly artist the Big Bopper, and became Jones's first number one country hit in 1959. It also made a dent in the pop charts, peaking at number 73. The year before, Jones returned to the country top ten after a three year absence with a cover of Richardson's "Treasure of Love". Jones's producer H.W. "Pappy" Dailey had succeeded on making Richardson a star with the million-selling pop single "Chantilly Lace" and "White Lightnin'" had been included on the Big Bopper's only LP Chantilly Lace before he was killed in a plane crash in early 1959. According to the Bob Allen biography George Jones: The Life and Times of a Honky Tonk Legend, after listening to "White Lightnin'", George quickly turned to Pappy and stated, "Don't give this to nobody else. I wanta record that." In his memoir, Jones confessed that he showed up for the recording session under the influence of a great deal of alcohol and it took him approximately 80 takes just to record his vocals. To make matters worse, Buddy Killen, who played the upright bass on the recording, was reported as having severely blistered fingers from having to play his bass part 80 times. Killen not only threatened to quit the session, but also threatened to physically harm Jones for the painful consequences of Jones's drinking. On the final vocal take used on the recording Jones slurs the word "slug", something he would mimic in live performances of the song.
In his autobiography, Jones apologized to readers who might be disappointed that he had not provided more information in his book about his recording sessions because "I've worked so many of them too drunk to walk but not too drunk to sing. I can't remember much about them." As he later explained to Billboard in 2006, "I would say 90% of the time I would be in pretty damn good shape when I went into the studio. I did have a little sense, not a whole lot. But I would still have to have a little build-up of courage, three or four drinks throughout the session time. I don't know, it seemed to mellow you out and relax you a little more, and you would even feel your songs better."
White Lightnin' and Other Favorites includes the duet "Flame In My Heart", a duet with Virginia Spurlock. The album also features songwriting collaborations with country tunesmiths Roger Miller and Hank Lockin.
- "White Lightning" (J. P. Richardson)
- "I'm with the Wrong One" (Earl Montgomery)
- "That's the Way I Feel" (George Jones, Roger Miller)
- "Life to Go" (Jones)
- "Don't Do This to Me" (Jones)
- "Wandering Soul" (Jones, Dudley)
- "Give Away Girl" (Jones, Kessel)
- "You're Back Again" (Jones, Hank Locklin)
- "No Use to Cry" (Jones)
- "Nothing Can Stop Me" (Jones, Miller)
- "Flame in My Heart" (with Virginia Spurlock) (Jones, Spurlock)
- "Jesus Wants Me" (Jones, Noack)
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