George Jones was 22 years old when he first signed a recording contract with Starday Records. The first of his more than 900 records is his self-penned honky-tonk tune “No Money in This Deal.” The song was the first of the five songs he recorded with The Western Cherokees in Beaumont, Texas. The recording greatly exhibited Lefty Frizzell’s influence particularly on Jones’ vocal style as well as on the lyrics. Also, the song’s close similarity with Frizzell’s 1950 hit “If You’ve Got the Money (I’ve Got the Time)” is hugely recognizable. Jones’ debut record was out on February 18, 1954.
Additional Facts of the Song
In 1956, Jones re-recorded the song. The re-recorded version appeared on his fourth studio album that was released the following year. The song became a regional hit. Despite its limited geographic exposure, the song undeniably helped launch Jones’ recording career. Surely, the singer had considered the song special. He even mentioned his two sisters, Joyce and Loyce, in it. However, in his interview with Nick Toches of Texas Monthly in 1994, Jones said of the song,
“[It’s a ] bunch of junk. It didn’t seem like junk so much back in those days, but it would be junk today.”
Also, during Jones’ early years of singing, many thought of him as someone with copied vocal style. He tried to imitate those country music artists he idolized so much including Roy Acuff, Hank Williams, and Lefty Frizzell. Also, in his 1996 autobiography, the singer admitted how nervous he was at the time he recorded his first two singles.
“I can’t imagine being as nervous today as I was when I cut my first two songs for Starday at age twenty-two. When anybody gets nervous they rely on their reflexes, and I was no exception.”
Listen to Jones’ recording of “No Money on This Deal” below.
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Debut Country Song, George Jones, Lefty Frizzell, No Money in This Deal