Four year ago this month, the greatest voice in country music was forever silenced with the death of the inimitable George Jones. With a singing career that spanned more than six decades, Jones was one of the most prolific country hitmakers of all time, reaching Billboard’s Number One country singles spot 13 times. He also had a string of almost-chart-toppers, with eight songs that stalled at the Number Two position. One of those, a 1980 single called “I’m Not Ready Yet,” contains the heartbreakingly poignant opening lines “Well I always said someday I was gonna leave you / Some April when all the land is wet.” (Watch Jones perform the song, from an early Eighties TV appearance, in the above video.)
Written by Tom T. Hall, the song about a failing romance and an unwillingness to let go was originally a minor hit in 1968 for the Blue Boys, reaching Number 58 on the chart. The backing band for the late Jim Reeves, the Blue Boys were fronted by vocalist Bud Logan and scored only one other chart entry with 1967’s “My Cup Runneth Over,” a Broadway tune that gave singer Ed Ames a Number One pop hit that same year. Led by Jones’ mournful vocal, the song was included on 1980’s I Am What I Am, which was largely considered his “comeback” LP, after drugs and alcohol nearly ended his spectacular career in the late Seventies, leading to his reputation as an unreliable live performer and giving rise to his nickname, “No Show Jones.”
Nearly forgotten today, it’s no wonder that “I’m Not Ready Yet” is somewhat lost among other tunes in the country legend’s illustrious body of work. It was, after all, released as the follow-up single to Jones’ signature song, “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” which became his first Number One in six years and is now considered the greatest country song of all time. The single issued after “I’m Not Ready Yet” was “If Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me (Her Memory Will),” another Top Ten but now iconic considering Jones’ personal history with substance abuse and his divorce a few years earlier from Tammy Wynette.
was made a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992. He gave his last
concert performance on
was 81. Earlier this year, the singer was remembered with the release of a massive
box set from
of a Legend – The Truly Complete Starday and Mercury Recordings 1954-1961.