Mr. George Jones is undoubtedly the Greatest Country Music singer to ever live and make music. There is no need to write an introduction for him, everyone already knows him (or should know him). George Jones possessed an incredibly unique voice, one that could pour every last drop of emotion the earth has into a song. Jones was much more than just a singer, he is THE Country Music Legend. Jones had an ability to sing a song to its absolute fullest, he could take a word and sing it in a way that no one else could. You didn’t just listen to his songs, you felt them, lived in them. Jones had a way of singing songs that made them permeate your soul.
I’ve chosen Mr. Jones’ “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?” video for this week’s Throwback Video feature because it happens to be one of my all time favorite songs and music videos. Written by Troy Seals and Max D. Barnes, the song was recorded for Jones’ 1985 album by the same name, and was released as the first single from the album that same year. In the song, Jones sings of the irreplacibility of country music legends including Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty, Roy Acuff, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Charlie Rich, Hank Williams, Marty Robbins, and Left Frizzel. Jones explains the impact that each of these artists had on country music, and then wonders who will replace these singers when they’re gone.
Directed by Marc Ball, the music video features Billy Sherrill in a cameo as the bus driver and CBS executive Rick Blackburn driving the Cadillac at the end of the video. The video itself takes place at a roadside gas station, where the owner, after asking Jones to sign a guitar that has been signed by many other country singers, shares his extensive collection of albums, photos, and other memorabilia from classic country music artists. The song starts as Jones and the owner walk into the building. The video features old footage of many of the artists mentioned in the song performing in their early years, we see footage of a young Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson, among others. At the end of the video, Jones signs the guitar for the station owner and then boards the tour bus. As Jones’ bus pulls away, a convertible pulls into the station, its passenger is a young man with a guitar who looks in awe at the tour bus leaving.
“Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?” won Music Video of the Year at the 1986 CMA Awards. The song and its music video are even more poignant today, as many of us find ourselves asking the same question: Who IS going to fill the shoes of our Legends? The answer: No One. No one could ever hope to fill those shoes. They don’t make legends like they use to. No one could surpass George Jones in talent or Legend, no one could ever fill his shoes.
Written by Liz Austin/CMM Contributing Writer