Five years ago, the unexpected passing of George Jones on April 26th, shocked the country music community. Six days after his death, May 2nd, a memorial service at the Grand Ole Opry was held. Famous personalities and co-artists shared their thoughts, eulogies and performed tribute songs to the great country music legend. Among them is former first lady Laura Bush, news personality Bob Schieffer, Tennessee governor Bill Haslam, and Charlie Daniels.
Charlie Daniels’ Eulogy and Tribute Song
In his eulogy, Charlie Daniels recalled the first time he ever heard the name, George Jones. It was in high school when he first came to know about the country music legend. He then went on to consider George Jones‘ career as “one of the most legendary careers in the history of the music business.”
In addition, Daniels also pointed out the fact that “George is probably the most imitated country singer of all time.” Daniels said,
“You can tell which younger singers are influenced by Jones because you can hear a little bit of The Possum in their vocal styling, although no one will come close to the gift Jones had.”
Furthermore, Daniels talked about Jones’ incredible talent for storytelling, manipulating lyrics, making us all feel the real emotion of a song, and singing for every person.
“He sang for us all,” Daniels said. “The non-stop partiers, the guy who’s always alone, the girl done wrong, the puppy lovers, the extrovert, the introvert, the guy at the end of the bar who never seems to go home, the happy, the unhappy, and everyone in between. George had a song for everybody.”
Daniels then ended his eulogy on a bittersweet note that drew applause from the crowd.
“He joins the ranks of the greatest of the great. Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams, Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash, Earl Scruggs, and Bill Monroe. As long as there is country music, he will be remembered.”
He then ended his tribute with a 119th-century classic hymn, “Softly and Tenderly.”
Watch Charlie Daniels share his thoughts and sing “Softly and Tenderly” as a tribute to the late George Jones below:
A Bit About the Song, “Softly and Tenderly”
A Christian hymn popularized in 1880, “Softly and Tenderly” was written by American gospel composer Will L. Thompson.
A member of the Churches of Christ, Thompson tried his hand with some success at secular compositions. He continued his passion in composing until he found his forte in writing hymns and gospel songs. Until now, his compositions continue to be sung in churches, funerals, and in schools.
To note, “Softly and Tenderly” is the most widely known of his compositions and has circulated far beyond its origins in the American Restoration Movement. Moreover, it is among the most prolifically translated gospel songs and has spread appealingly into the repertoire of various fellowships of Christendom.
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Charlie Daniels, Softly and Tenderly