|Leon Payne, the Blind Balladeer|
|George Jones, pensive in 1971|
Country legend George Jones (1931-2013), who also hailed from Texas, released several songbook albums in his career, including collections devoted to Hank Williams and to Dallas Frazier. In 1971 he cut an album of Payne songs, and it's a terrific record. Several of the numbers are more obscure Payne efforts, and if they're not all "great" as the album title promises, there's really not a dud in the bunch. Three songs in particular capture a subject close to Payne's heart: the weakness endemic to humans. There were few country music singers who could narrate the frailties of living more expressively, and, paradoxically, more sweetly than Jones, and he really gets inside of these songs. Produced by Pappy Daily, and accompanied by the reliable Jordinaires, Jones's respectful but affecting performances make clear his affection for Payne's songwriting.
The stories these three numbers navigate are as old as time: the bottle, egotism, and dissolution. You pick the cause-and-effect order in your life; here's the sequence in which they appear on the album.