So, Alan Jackson is at the peak of his first wave of popularity, and he partners up with a still-potent George Jones to cover one of the Possum’s greatest singles.
I qualify that statement with “one of”, simply because “He Stopped Loving Her Today”, “The Window Up Above”, and “She Thinks I Still Care” exist, but in my personal opinion, the original recording of “A Good Year for the Roses” really is the best George Jones single.
So the two traditionalists pairing up to resurrect this classic couldn’t possibly go wrong, with Jackson being an heir apparent for Jones, who was creatively resurgent at the time. But they don’t go quite as right as they could have. The tempo is a bit too slow, and the dramatic strings are conspicuously missing.
Maybe they didn’t want too much tamoxifen production getting in the way, but for all that Jones is praised for being pure country, what made his best seventies and eighties records soar were those big strings and layers of backing vocalists. Jones is a big enough singer to maintain a commanding presence amidst all of the bells and whistles. That approach wouldn’t play to Jackson’s strengths, so maybe that’s why they kept it simple.
But even though both men are in fine form and they perform the song well, it sounds like something is missing.
Written by Jerry Chesnut
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“The Bradley Barn Sessions” was the first George Jones tape i ever bought, in the mid 1990s. I was a teen and heard he was a “legend” so this CD tempted me because it also had many of my then-favorite stars on it. I’ve since heard many of George’s solo versions of these songs, but I really like most of the tracks on “Bradley Barn,” especially “One Woman Man” with Marty Stuart.
…there aren’t so many better songs in all of country music than this one (original). the five stages of grief (according to kübler-ross) have probably rarely been expressed more artistically and with greater emphasis on painful details than in this song. if that ain’t a good enough reason in itself to bring on steel and strings – what else would be?
a few years ago mark chesnutt played in zurich/switzerland, yet with a stripped down touring band. it was great to see him so far away from home, but without steel and fiddle his music was a bit like coffee without the black colour – something just didn’t feel right. same here, when you’ve heard george jones’ original before.
I agree that the string sections added intensity to many of Jones’ classic records, but for me their absence doesn’t necessarily take anything away from this track.
Lorrie Morgan and Sammy Kershaw also did a duet version of this song that I thought was pretty great. It was on Lorrie’s War Paint album (1994).
Just one question… What’s the grade? :)
I agree with this review. The original recording of the song was perfect, and why mess with perfection? I mean no offense to Messrs. Jones or Jackson, but when I heard this version of the song I felt as if something was missing as well.
But then I have never been a fan of artists’ re-recordings of classic hits.