Blake Shelton pays homage to George Jones, Elvis Presley, the Flintstones and Jim Beam bourbon in his latest “Friends and Heroes Session” release — a cover of “The King Is Gone (So Are You).” The 1989 single by Jones was penned by songwriter Roger Ferris and was one of the country icon’s last for Epic Records before he began recording for Nashville’s MCA label.
The otherwise forlorn tale of a man drowning his sorrows in whiskey presents a bit of absurdist humor as Shelton sings, “I pulled the head off Elvis, filled Fred up to his pelvis,” draining the contents of an Elvis-shaped Jim Beam decanter into a “Flintstones jellybean jar” (so-phrased because that presumably flows better musically than “jelly jar”).
The song’s irresistible sing-along chorus incorporates animated character Fred Flintstone’s catchphrase “yabba-dabba-doo,” which was actually part of the track’s title on early pressings of Jones’ LP, One Woman Man, but later changed to avoid a legal hassle. As the story continues, Shelton finds himself in conversation with both Elvis and Fred, who offer him dating advice before he finally comes to the realization that he won’t be forgiven for his past transgressions. By the song’s end, all he’s left with is a broken decanter — the result of punching Elvis’ nose.
Shelton’s previous Friends and Heroes Session was another ode to a potent potable, “Tequila Sheila,” which featured Bobby Bare, who had a hit with that Shel Silverstein-Mac Davis song in 1980. Shelton will launch his Friends and Heroes Tour on February 14th in Oklahoma City, a trek that features Trace Adkins, Lauren Alaina, the Bellamy Brothers and John Anderson.