Before George Jones performed what was considered as the greatest country song of all time, “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” he has earlier releases that helped him launch his singing career. Following the success of his first No. 1 single “White Lightning,” Jones recorded what has been predicted as George Jones classic. Displaying a more mature, restrained vocal approach, the King of Country Music has indeed given justice to such expectation. Taking his previously established honky-tonk vocals to the next level has resulted in the production of another major hit. Several music critics appraised the improved singing voice of “The Possum.” They have emphasized on this as a salient contributing factor to the success of “Tender Years.” Country music historian Colin Escot argues in the liner notes to the 1994 Mercury compilation Cup of Loneliness: The Classic Mercury Years,
“Tender Years” “just about defined the territory he carved out as his own in the years ahead.”
This was supported by music journalist Rich Kienzle in his essay for The Essential George Jones: The Spirit of Country stating,
“His restrained delivery and the smoother, ‘Nashville Sound‘ production (complete with muted accompaniment and a vocal chorus) produced a smoother, but no less expressive George Jones.”
Listen to George Jones’ tender delivery of his hit “Tender Years” below.
A Few Facts of the Song
Jones co-wrote the lyrics of “Tender Years” with Darrell Edwards. The single came out in April 1961 on his album Greatest Hits. It spent seven non-consecutive weeks on top of the country chart. Moreover, its chart reign lasted for a total of 32 weeks. Additionally, the single became a minor hit on the pop chart peaking at No. 76. After several years, Jones would perform the song with fellow country artists Faron Young and Marty Robbins during a segment on the latter’s television show.
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