Back in January, when Scotty McCreery made his first Grand Ole Opry appearance of 2015, the former American Idol champ closed his set with a cover of Conway Twitty’s “Hello Darlin’.” McCreery kept that tradition alive during last week’s Opry performance, which found him taking a stab at George Jones‘ 1974 classic “The Grand Tour.”
Originally released months before Jones’ divorce from Tammy Wynette, “The Grand Tour” foreshadowed the heartbreak that lay just around the corner. It also became Jones’ biggest hit in nearly a decade, boosted by an arrangement filled with strings and gospel harmonies. In an interesting turn of events, Wynette later married one of the song’s co-writers, George Richey, who remained her husband until her death in 1998.
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With help from a large backup band, McCreery’s version of “The Grand Tour” tips its hat to Jones’ sweeping, swooning original. He dips into his lowest register, climbs his way toward the climactic high notes and even places himself inside the song’s broken home, gesturing offstage toward the chair where, as Jones once sang, “she’d bring the paper to me and sit down on my knee and whisper, ‘Oh, I love you.'”
Meanwhile, McCreery’s summertime shows — including an ongoing gig as Rascal Flatt’s opening act — have all included their share of covers, with Alabama’s “Mountain Music,” Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” and Garth Brooks’ “Papa Loved Mama” standing out as some of his most-played songs. The singer will perform solo shows in Georgia and Louisiana this weekend.